I am a fraud. To use the vernacular of my 80’s upbringing – I’m a total poser, dude. I’m an armchair adventurer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fully in the Walter Mitty category. I do occasionally go outside and do stuff. But it’s happening less and less often. What’s more telling is that I’m starting to feel more apprehension about activities than I ever did before. My fear of getting hurt, or failing, and the unknown are starting to creep into my head far too frequently lately.
What I’m discovering about myself is that I really, really, like the idea of being adventurous. It’s the doing part that I don’t follow up with. The other day over dinner with some friends we talked about all the things we’d like to do this summer. I was happy to jabber on about road trips, backcountry motorcycle expeditions, climbing and mountaineering, and spur of the moment mountain bike rides. After the drinks wear off, I know that the possibility of my actually doing any of those things isn’t super high.
I’m not sure why that is. Some of it is just laziness. A rolling stone and moss and whatnot. I’ve been gathering a fair amount of moss these days. A lot of it is just caution. I’ve noticed that at the climbing gym, once I’m five or six feet in the air I’m very reluctant to try a move because of a fear of falling. It’s not like I’m going to get hurt. I’d be falling on a soft crash pad. Worse case I get the wind knocked out of me. So why am I so afraid? It must be a facet of getting old.
What gets into my head is that I really want to do these adventures. I can easily spend all day reading about adventure trips and free spirited folks who just do things. Americans have always been enamored with the antihero. The folks who just get stuff done and go out and make adventures happen. Shane McConkey, Jimmy Chin, Cheryl Strayed, Alastair Humphreys, Hank Patterson. These folks decide to do something and just go make it happen. Granted it didn’t always turn out so well for all of them, but they did what they wanted to do. I fear I’m turning into that kid in the commercial who calls his grandma on the phone in the next room for another grape soda.
I’ll spend two hours on the ADV forum following some guy’s two week motorcycle trip across the backcountry dirt roads of Idaho and tell myself, dammit I’m doing that. But that would mean getting the motorcycle running again and buying some more gear. And it’s kinda cold out right now. And I’m directionally challenged so what if I got really lost, or what if the bike stopped running and I got stuck? Besides there’s a couple of episodes of Walking Dead I haven’t caught up on and there’s some yardwork that needs doing. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll think about it again.
I think I’m one of those people who always needs a guide. Someone who takes me by the hand and says we’re going to go do this, and here’s what you need, and here’s how it’s going to work. Once I do it I’m golden. I’ve skied for years at my local mountain without exploring some areas that I knew were there, but didn’t know if they were above my ability or if I’d get lost. This season I finally put on my big boy pants and followed a friend to these places. Now that I’ve seen them and they’re not the unknown I’m happily exploring every off-piste area I can find. Why was I so worried about exploring them before?
Is there a moral to this rambling? Doubtful. I think it’s mostly an internal pep-talk to convince myself to go do stuff and that I don’t always need a “guide”. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll end up with a good story to tell. Then again there’s a bag of chips in the cupboard and 24 hours of political coverage to watch. And I hear there’s a threat of rain today. Time to catch up on my Instagram feed of adventurers and amazing photos.