What is adventure, anyway?
We all have a bit of a different way of defining adventure. My definition came from a chat with my good friend Larry over Zoom while he sat in a hot tub in Utah. We mulled over our experiences of adventure over the years. We thought through definitions we had heard and put them through their paces with our experiences and those from others we knew. After a while, we came to this functional definition (or distinction): Adventure is an experience where we learn through persevering into the unknown,finding fulfillment.
When was the last time you truly felt alive, like someone had set a fire in your soul? Where were you? What were you doing?
These are the types of experiences that all of our greatest stories are built on. The ones we tell to our closest brothers around a campfire, over a cup of coffee (or something stronger).The stories we tell are the ones of adventure:
“Remember when we got lost and didn’t know if we’d make it back alive?”
“Man, let me tell you about this one time where things got real…”
“It was 3 AM. It was raining, I was absolutely smoked, and then they asked me to lead these crazy people… time to put up or shut up!”
This is what makes us come into our own as men: adventure. In our day of distractions, endless obligations for our time and attention, deadlines, and busyness, we forget that we were created to live a life that’s full of opportunities to push ourselves and shape our destinies.
Three levels of adventure
When you think about adventure, you might conjure up images of a team of climbers summiting Everest, Indiana Jones hacking through a jungle, or backpacking through Europe. These “epic”adventures are what we see on TV, in movies, and of course all over social media. They are inspiring,challenging, and…. seemingly overwhelming and unattainable. This is where I found myself a few years ago, thinking: “When do I actually get to live life? I see all these guys doing epic things and here I am stuck in my cubicle during the day and changing diapers at night. I’m just barely surviving.” What we fail to realize is that there is a spectrum of adventure! John Eldredge talks about there being three levels: CASUAL, CRUCIAL, and EPIC
A Casual Adventure is a small scale, low risk experience where we learn through persevering into the unknown, finding fulfillment that doesn’t require planning.
Casual adventures are what you do with your kids in the evenings, with your family on the weekend, or on a short solo trip. You can do these every day! This type of adventure builds the skills, mindset, and tools you need to take on the higher levels of adventure and the risks they entail. It’s your practice. Your way of learning what’s necessary and proving to yourself that you have what it takes, so that when you raise the stakes, you’re ready.
Crucial Adventure is a higher risk experience catalyzed by self-reflection, then persevering into the unknown, where fulfillment and growth are found.
Crucial adventures are the ones that are higher risk, larger in scope, and require more of you mentally, physically, and financially. They will require training, new skills, maybe some new gear (who doesn’t love shopping for new adventure gear?), and certainly a mindset shift. These are things like a GORUCK challenge (if you’ve never done one before), SEALfit 20X, a backpacking trip in the backcountry, a marriage retreat with your spouse, or getting your finances in order to fuel your other adventures.
The main elements of crucial adventures are that they integrate aspects of the larger story of your life into it. The challenge of starting a new business. A physical challenge that, through the training process, changes your whole outlook and trajectory of your health. They are catalyzed by self‐reflection, either before or during the experience, that connects this experience to your larger story.
Epic Adventure is an experience with (or recognized by) others where we learn through persevering into the unknown, finding fulfillment, through significant physical, mental, or emotional risk.
This level of adventure centers on the stories that last a lifetime. The ones you can’t wait to tell your friends about around a campfire. They aren’t always physical though. Supporting your wife as she transitions from a decade long career in music education to start a PhD program in a new field. Moving your family across the country. Struggling with your friend as he’s wrestling with problems in his job and with his teenage kids. There are epic adventures to be found in marriage, fatherhood, and brotherhood!
What adventures do you want to take on? Our team wants to support you, challenge you, inspire you, and encourage you along the way. Use this form to share with us what your ultimate adventure