Adventure of Life


The world is a book and every step turns a new page

A Sherpa boy was born into a life of adventure. He saw the beauty that surrounded him, felt the frigid blasts of mountain air that invigorated him, heard the peaceful sounds of quietude, tasted the snow that playfully danced in his mouth whenever he spoke, and after blowing out the candle, smelled the fragrance of nightfall.

How easy it is to imagine a life of adventure in a distant land. Yet, life itself is an adventure if we allow it to be. Each moment is another page in an exciting book we call life. Here's how it was described by French poet, historian, and statesman (Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de) Larmartine, 1790 ~ 1869), "The world is a book and every step turns a new page."

People respond differently when given a good book. Some may accept it, but ignore it. Others may set it aside to read "someday." Still others will read it, but not apply what they have learned. Then there are those who are like children, filled with curiosity, always eager to learn and discover. They are the adventurers. They live in the moment and delight in the sounds, feelings, sights, aromas, tastes, sensations, and experiences that engulf them. They love the world. They love life.

Sometimes all it takes is a visit to the park to reawaken our senses and spirit. If we let go of the cares of the day, we open ourselves to the beauty, wonder, awe, and mystery of life. These sentiments are well expressed in the following poem by writer, poet, and adventurer, William Henry Davies (1871 ~ 1940):

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


It is this same gentleman, rascal, and tramp who taught that life is measured by the breaths we do NOT take, those breathtaking moments of joy, delight, and enchantment. And he is probably the author of that beautiful quotation, "Life is not measured by the number of breathes we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

But before we can experience the grandeur of the present moment, we have to be aware. Writing on awareness, Jerry Fleishman had this to say, "A greater poverty than that caused by lack of money is the poverty of unawareness. Men and women go about the world unaware of the beauty, the goodness, and the glories in it. Their souls are poor. It is better to have a poor pocketbook than to suffer from a poor soul."

If your day isn't brimming over with excitement and pleasure, a good start would be to look for things to be thankful for. Do this often enough and it becomes habitual. And later, you will no longer have to search for life's delights because you will be constantly stumbling over them throughout the day.

Are you waiting for a special day to experience life as an adventure? That won't be necessary. A normal day will do, as Mary Jean Iron shows in her prayer, "Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so."

When novelist Howard Spring (1889 ~ 1965) was a young boy, he read and remembered the inscription on a sundial. It read, "I count only the hours that shine." There is no better guarantee of an adventurous life than by making every hour shine and every minute count. Always doing our best is the gateway to a life of adventure.

Some would argue that far from being exciting, life is boring. They mistakenly believe that boredom is caused by external events or our environment. But boredom is not a result of outside events. It is caused by a decision to do nothing rather than something. Adventurers are engaged with life. They form a partnership with it, making things happen by taking action and delighting in the surprises that life brings our way.

When seen from the right perspective, change, the unknown, and risks are the ingredients of an adventure. But when viewed with the wrong attitude, they become fearful and things to avoid. No wonder David Grayson (1870 ~ 1946) writes, "Adventure is not outside a man; it is within." After all, it is an attitude we embrace, a choice we make, and a decision we commit to.

Psychotherapist, researcher, and consultant, Dr. Dawna Markova expressed an attitude worthy of imitating when she wrote, "I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."

One secret of adventuresome living is to embrace life, but not so tightly that we squeeze the adventure out of it. A pianist lets go of the keys immediately after striking them. Similarly, the way to enjoy an adventure is to be willing to let it go. How can life's adventure develop and surprise us unless we release our grip?

Mrs. Taylor of Foster, Quebec learned about this from a poem she found scribbled on a piece of paper in a restaurant in Montreal. Here's the poem:

The Art of Living

To touch the cup with eager lips and taste, not drain it;
To woo and tempt and count a bliss, and not attain it;
To fondle and caress a joy, yet hold it lightly;
To watch the sunset in the west without regretting;
To hail its advent in the east, the night forgetting;
To smother care in happiness, and grief in laughter;
To hold the present close, not questioning the hereafter;
To have enough to share, to know the joy of giving;
To thrill with all the sweets of life -- that's living.


Here's another poem to act as a guide to adventuresome living. It was written by Rear Admiral R. H. Jackson (deceased):

THE OLD GARDENER

Count your garden by the flowers,
Never by the leaves that fall.
Count your day by golden hours,
Don't remember clouds at all.

Count your nights by stars, not shadows,
Count your life by smiles, not tears,
And, with joy on every birthday,
Count your age by friends -- not years.


Here's a final thought to serve as a model for the New Year; it was written by British social reformer and Theosophist, Annie Besant (1847 ~ 1933). "Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle."

© Chuck Gallozzi
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