Adventures Big and Small

In our fast-paced modern life, it's easy to get locked into a routine. I've seen many adult eyes glazed over as they rush to attend one more function, one more kids' activity, one more whatever. 

I remember meeting a new couple once. The husband was a professor in a college business school. He told me that he had met his wife in Alaska. Long ago, each of them had traveled independently to Alaska in search of adventure, in search of something new and exciting. That's where they met and fell in love. Now they lived in a comfortable suburb.

I feel a bit guilty about this now, but I asked the professor what had happened to that spirit of adventure that had taken him to Alaska so many years ago. He just stared at me, unable to speak. It was clear to me that the zeal that had sparked his journey to Alaska had vanished from his personality, and the realization of what he had lost had just hit him like a two by four.

I think one of the strengths of my relationship with my wife, Connie, is that we have always had a spirit of adventure. We never made it to Alaska, but we did live for a while in northwest Montana. And while we had a lot of routine when we were bringing up our six children, we also found ways to go on adventures, with them and just as a couple.

In 2008, after living virtually all of our adult life in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a series of events took us to Newark, New York, just east of Rochester, a place with which we were totally unfamiliar. That was a very big adventure, and after we arrived there we went on many smaller adventures.

From Newark, we could go an hour or two or more in any direction and find something beautiful and interesting. We took many day trips on Saturdays to go exploring. After 5 1/2 years in upstate New York, we felt that we had not left anything on the table when we returned to Tulsa.

So I'm just asking you to consider where there is some adventure in your life, and if your adventure barometer is giving you a low reading, try to stir up some excitement. Here are a few suggestions.

Focus on something in nature, something beautiful. Do not take along any gadgets for movies, video games, texting or even finding directions. A cell phone would be okay ONLY for taking pictures. No GPS. Bring a map. Gadgetization leads to mesmerization, which inhibits adventure.

I love the concept of pilgrimages. Go on a pilgrimage to a place that has significance, either in religion, history, your genealogy, something like that. I went on a pilgrimage once to Mattoon, Illinois, just to visit the Catholic church where I was baptized. I went to Mass and stayed afterward to thank God for my Baptism as a Catholic, for my parents who not only had me baptized but were inspiring models of adult Catholics and for all the graces I had received through my experience as a Catholic.

My wife and I still plan adventures, taking short weekend trips to places in Arkansas and Missouri, going to places we've never been.

Of course, the best adventure is waking up every day and saying, "Okay, Lord, I've got my agenda for the day, but if you have something else in mind, just let me know and we'll do it together." God will never let our lives get boring. No character in the Bible lived a boring life, and it should be the same for every one of us.

Sunset over the Missouri River on a recent trip to Boonville, Missouri

Sunset over the Missouri River on a recent trip to Boonville, Missouri