"How many adventure films does it take to compensate for a lack of adventure? How many superhero movies must one watch, to compensate for the atrophied expression of one's greatness?" - Charles Eisenstein
Where, as men, do we learn about being adventurous? What does adventure even mean to men in today's world?
It's interesting to think about where we have inherited our perspective of adventure. For some, it comes from Tintin books. For others, the source stems from action films such as the Bond series, where the hero always manages to overcome every obstacle. And yet - where does adventure, in the most classical sense of the word, fit into our vicariously lived, pixel dominated, time scarce landscape?
Men, in hunter-gather times, used to leave their women and children behind in order to head out together on extended hunting trips, driven by the need to survive. During these journeys, men would find themselves in pristine, perilous wilderness where they would depend on one another and their own sharpened senses, to outwit potential predators. These excursions would forge tight brotherly bonds between men, teach survival, mental alertness and use up extraordinary amounts of physical energy.
In the 21st century where do western men find themselves? Most often, they are sat behind computers - often in offices - dreaming of something other than what they find themselves doing. For the most part, our wild energy as men has stagnated. We see that men's mental health has vastly deteriorated in the last 30 years with 15 men across the UK alone taking their own lives every day. Many of the more negative traits of masculine expression in the world seem to dominate our politics, business and the way that we treat the environment. It seems modern society continues to narrow its focus, where competition dominates at all costs, success is defined by money and power and there is little importance placed on connectedness. One of the most concerning current worldviews is rooted in the expression of the macho-man where vulnerability, emotionality and any softness whatsoever are seen as weak.
What would our world be like if we began to redefine and balance our expression of masculinity and what it means to be a man? Would shallow stag parties go from: Who can get the most off their face, to: Who can share the most deeply and who offers the most wisdom?
The million-dollar question is how can such a change take place? One way of supporting this shift is through adventure. The etymology of the word adventure comes from the Latin advenire - to arrive, and adventurus - about to happen. As men, when we get stuck in the mundane traps and routine of every day working life - which primarily focuses around work and errands - one's outlook can become pretty bleak.
From my own experience, even the most boring of tasks (in my case book-keeping) if seen through the lens of an adventure, allows me to experience the same event in a positive light; one of possibility and even excitement.
An adventure can be an external one, where we head into the mountains or take on substantial physical endurance such as a Triathlon or Ironman. These types of adventures make us feel alive and renewed and we often come back home full of vigour and vitality.
Another form of adventure is an internal one. This stems from a place where we discover where our edge - our line of comfort - lies. The largest hurdle to overcome, for our screen-addicted culture, is recognising that gold lies beyond our comfort zone. When we play purposefully beyond our edge, the fruits we harvest are often supporting our growth - deeply nourishing, enriching and never dull.
I want to live in a world that celebrates that balanced, adventurous man. Where men thrive by seeing life as a gift to be enjoyed. Where men are intimate with both their masculine and feminine traits. Where success amongst men is celebrated by being of service to others, while growing and developing oneself.
So take stock of your edges in life, feel into them, take a deep breath and take the plunge. It's not about all going out at once into the wilderness (though that would be interesting). The art of men's adventure is found by allowing a shift of perspective to occur. Seeing life as a great mystery once again, and falling in love with the journey along the way.
Adrian is a wilderness guide helping men discover both their inner and outer adventure. He will be co-leading two men's retreats this year in the wild. For more information please visit: http://wayofnature.co.uk/retreats/#mensretreats