Photo above - Taken while walking the Nakasendō in Nagano.
In his book The Backyard Adventurer, Beau Miles got me thinking. His films are inspirational and well worth anyone’s attention but it’s his recent writings on adventuring that peaked my interest the most.
My version of things nowadays is that I’ll throw myself at projects through simplified objectives and simplistic planning, but I won’t be a slave to high points and furthest shores if it means flogging myself half to death, which teeters on failing to get the job done while losing my sense of humour.
As far as I can gather, pointy-ended adventures in which you go long, hard, fast, high and wide are one part fun, if you’re lucky, to nine parts hard work. The alternative is finding yourself in an obtainable place layered up with healthy aspects of challenge, curiosity, and creativity while adventuring in backwaters and alleyways under your nose. Lo and behold, these stunts turn out to be the most fun you’ve had in far too long.
Miles, Beau. The Backyard Adventurer (p. 192). Brio Books. Kindle Edition.
I used to cycle 1000kms a month before my daughter arrived, always plotting new routes, finding obscure roads in the mountains and going out all day, sometimes overnight in search of adventure. Now I barely manage 300kms a month.
Switching cycling for running as well as longer walks/hikes has done me good. I don’t feel any worse off for missing out on the ‘hard work’ or even the gratification involved in slogging up a long climb, busting a gut to get to 1000kms every month, or reaching two 3000m peaks on two hikes in just over a week. Maybe it’s an age thing but I now see other ways of getting an adventure fix and none of them have to be painful or hard work anymore. Miles’s book and videos make that plainly clear.
Playing with my daughter in a new park or casually mountain biking along the river together (yes we do that), learning something new, or slowing down and photographing with intent can all have elements of adventure attached to them. Even writing this every month makes me nervous and curious as to what I’m capable of (such a low standard, I know!). As Miles’ says, it basically comes down to being curious about something and then exploring whatever that thing is.
Adventure in all its forms is everywhere and as life continues to evolve you have to go looking for it in new places. I’m slowing down and I’m enjoying it.
I’ve also started a new series called Some Distant Memory based on Craig Mod’s wonderful Huh, A Cafe With a View of the Waterfall experiment where I post one or two photographs taken in the past and a short backstory to accompany them. You can read more about that here. I like the idea of this a lot.
I haven’t finished this book yet but it might be the most important advice I’ve read in years. The notes I’m taking are unlike anything I’ve taken in any other book and even though I try to cut down as a much as possible on unnecessary physical purchases I think I need a hard copy (I currently own the Kindle version).
The premise is simple enough - there is no future only the present, abandon most goals so you can focus on what’s really important accepting the fact that you are not going to get most things done and be happy about it. I’ve read a number of books similar to this but Burkeman’s perspective is unique. No need to go deeper because I’m still reading but based on what I’ve read so far I can highly recommend it. It’s potentially life changing. It also ties in nicely with ideas in The Backyard Adventurer mentioned above.
How to Live: 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion by Derek Sivers
The Backyard Adventurer by Beau Miles
Feel free to get in touch if you like anything you read.