Tiny Adventures

Sprinkle of snow, windy cold have cleared this park as effectively as jungle fevers.

Fads come and go as people try to cope with stressful madness of modern life.  “Slow food,” mindfulness, meditation and many commercially trademarked solutions promise at least some relief.  I have found myself enjoying what I call “tiny adventures.”

An adventure has been famously defined as “something that when you are having it you wish you were somewhere else, but when you are not having it you wish you were having.”  My adventures are not quite like that.  They are merely actions that take me a little bit out of my comfort zone _ walking in the woods on a frigid day, going to an event instead of sitting on the couch.  True explorers are laughing their heads off at my hubris.

I don’t care.  Adventures are largely an attitude.  Some travelers on cruises and world tours never leave the comfort of their settled consciousnesses, just as some diners hardly notice what they are eating.

Horror writers and film directors can transform birds into adrenaline-provoking menaces.

A recent winter walk provides an example.  The temperature was just below 28 degrees _ nothing too formidable _ but near-gale winds blasted out of the Northwest.  I bundled up in long underwear, heavy socks, insulated boots, wool cap, and down mittens.  Then I took a two mile walk along a local causeway facing Long Island Sound.

Half of that was directly into the gusts, which were whipping up whitecaps on waves which unusually were almost as high as on the ocean.  Spray fumed up from rocks, smart birds were huddled in sheltered coves.  Once in a while I was nearly knocked over.  Time seemed suspended in furious motion.

Rewards were beauty, solitude, and a sense of natural peace.  I felt a connection to the “real world” that never happens in my house or car, or in some brightly lit store.  And when I finally returned to the parking lot to drive home, I had the relaxed feeling of having accomplished something memorable.  Not quite a trip to the North Pole with a sled dog, but within my limits an extraordinary moment.

What might be? Tree spirits?  Rock kobolds?  Pond sprites?  Snow elves? Imagination has no limits.

OK, you are right, common thrills like this are simply being more conscious of our environment.  Like eating with comprehension, or becoming mindful of everything we take for granted.  It is just that I find it a little easier to jar into this appreciation pattern when I am doing something a little bit out of the ordinary, or something which I could easily have avoided to take it easy.

I find the world full of the possibility of such tiny adventures.  A ride on a New York Subway rivals anything at Disney.  Driving the LIE can flash moments of sheer terror.  Watching seagulls on a deserted beach for half an hour is very like a visit to a zoo.  To an outside observer, my world may seem constricted and claustrophobic, but from my perspective it is wide enough for all time.

Laugh at this old guy as you will.  I find days full of marvels, where others see only grey boredom.  As long as my imagination can fuel enhanced senses, I will appreciate these chances to be somewhat more than I usually am.

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