The 31st Life Lesson of Adventure

Life lessons adventure


Every year around my birthday I pause to think of what the most recent trip around the sun–the last 365 days–taught me.


Not because I think that every year will supply some vast life lesson, but just to be ready in case it does.


This last year has been an impactful one for me: it was my first full year married or having a “real” job (as my mother puts it), I went on 22 trips to 10 countries (including a Tony Robbins seminar, hiking the Himalayas, and camping in Havasupai), I even published a book!


The only reason I mention that is to note that this year, life provided ample opportunities to learn–and I hope that this lesson sticks with me and, perhaps, it might help you think through important aspects of your life as well.


This year my life taught me about adventure. More specifically:


Make time for, give room to, and find purpose in the adventures of life.


Make time for…


There will never be a “good” time to change up your routine.


It is always easier to stay put than not and especially as life gets increasingly complicated with additional responsibilities, it becomes harder to plan for adventure.


Life won’t break its plans for your adventures, but it can bend.


A deliberate life is a well-written one where you can go to the previous chapters of yesteryear and read the voice of the author–not a chronicle written by the the circumstances surrounding the author.


But that requires not idle sitting and hoping the time will come, but planning a trip, taking that vacation, putting in an extra few hours to figure out how to do it with kids, putting it on the calendar, buying the tickets–it requires us to make the time.


Give room to…


I have a dear friend, Scott Jarvie, who taught me this lesson.


He is a man who has an unquenchable desire for the unordinary. He is a professional photographer who travels the country in his Airstream when he isn’t traveling the world. He is the kind of guy who, when he eats out, doesn’t look at a menu, but rather asks the server to bring out a surprise for him. (As a foodie, I have to say, that is bravery beyond my palate.)


During one of our conversations he said to me, “I never plan my trips all the way so that I can give room to adventure.”


This year, as my wife and I have traveled around the world, we’ve tried to do this.


We showed up in Costa Rica with two full days of no plans and ended up on a catamaran sailing through a sunset.

Our flight landed in India with plans to go to the Taj Mahal and no way of getting there but found a way and had the time of our lives.

We hiked for 12 miles not knowing if they would let us camp at the end of the road (and they did).


Some of the most exciting and fun things happened not because we planned them, but because we planned to let life happen.


Put some time in your day to explore and wander through the possibilities and play a little travel roulette. Sure, sometimes you spend 4 hours driving with strangers helping them look for a sloth sanctuary in the Dominican Republic that doesn’t exist…but other times you see the sloth in the wild just after dropping off those same strangers.


Find purpose in…


As I said, life will at times bend, but rarely break it’s plan for yours. The adventures of life can often feel like the misadventures of strife–and quite frankly, they can be. But the unplanned and undesired need not be void of meaning.


When you are seeking the life you’ve imagined, give way to the better one that you couldn’t have.


I had so many plans for my life when I was 30.


In my 30tn year, I would have multiple kids.

In my 30th year, I would have traveled to all 7 continents.

In my 30th year, I would be a millionaire.


Well guess what, younger version of me? None of it happened.


I made time for and gave room to the adventures of life, but in the end…it didn’t turn out like I wanted.


…it turned out so much better.


I am so grateful for the wife I have and would have waiting another 10 years if it meant finding her.

I have had deeper and more meaningful experiences in countries around the world that I never could have afforded had I spend the money to visit my final content of Antarctica.

I have learned so much more than I ever would have had I gotten lucky with one of my first startups.


So yes, things aren’t as I planned, but in perspective, they are exactly as they should be.


One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau,

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them” (Walden).


Never see yourself as falling short, but as finding purpose in the unexpected this great universe has to offer.


…the Adventures of Life


Life is a tender and beautiful and exciting adventure. An adventure that we create, seek, and at times simply accept.


I am grateful for these last 365 days–each one an opportunity to learn.


My sincere prayer is that this next year, and each year after that we will make time for, give room to, and find purpose in the adventures of life.


Thanks for sticking around until the end of this post. It means a lot you’d share your time with me.


If you like this post, please share. You can find more in my book, Dating Never Works…Until It Does.

Zack Oates Book Dating


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