Adventure – noun – an unusual and exciting or daring experience
When I first moved to Sydney in 1993 I planned to be there for a year. A whole year. 52 weeks. 52 weekends. I decided 52 weekends meant 52 adventures.
I was 24. Adventure was my middle name. (Actually it’s Ann but I wished it was Adventure).
52 weeks. 52 Adventures.
I took sailing lessons. I explored different suburbs of the city. I checked out outdoor markets. I tried out the different beaches to find my favourite. I visited various national parks. I went to the theatre in the Botanic Gardens. I tried to improve my horrible French by taking lessons at the Alliance Francaise de Sydney.
One weekend I hiked the path around North Head as the tide came in and ended up wading in the Harbour. Only later did I learn that sharks regularly hang out in that bit of the harbour as the tide comes in.
I met a British guy who liked adventures too. He had travelled the world and impressed me with his travel stories. Some weekends we had adventures together, hiking or going to the Blue Mountains or even traveling to Melbourne for Christmas. And we moved in together. Quite a lot of weekends I spent alone while he travelled for work or had other commitments.
But that year was one of the best of my life because I learned so much about myself.
After a year my adventurer boyfriend moved back to the UK leaving me in Sydney. Six months on, I got lonely and eventually I followed him to the UK (via Fiji and a stint in the US) and we got married. That was another adventure altogether. You would think since we both spoke English that it would be easy. It wasn’t. We come from two very different worlds. I tried to fit into his world but always felt like a square peg in a round hole. I just hoped no one really noticed.
We continued to travel for the next few years – Thailand, Nepal, India, Bhutan, France and Spain. More exciting adventures.
And then our eldest daughter arrived. What an adventure that was! Like all adventures there were ups and downs. I’m not a natural born mother. And I can’t stand babies. They all look like aliens. But eventually I got the hang of it although it took me a while.
Our second daughter’s middle name really should be Adventure. Whilst pregnant with her I had food poisoning three times, including once in Beijing China where we were looking to relocate. After a stint in the hospital there and being told by my doctors back in the UK that I shouldn’t move to Beijing, we decided to turn my husband’s job offer down which in a weird way eventually led us to moving back to Australia.
So with a four year old and a 11 month old, we moved six times in one year – and one of those moves was from the UK to Australia. Were we crazy or what? Actually, it just seemed like the next adventure for us. And maybe it would re-kindle a bit of spark in our marriage. Australia had been a happy place for us once. Could it be again?
They say you can’t go back to somewhere you lived before. I think that’s right. Luckily for us, we moved to a different city and didn’t live where everything reminded us of our past happy life together. We got busy living our day to day life. Both of us working full-time. Two growing kids. A mortgage. All those things that society says you should have…
After some years, I realised we weren’t seeing the adventures in everyday life anymore. Life was mundane. It was stressful. I realised we didn’t want the same adventures together anymore. We grew apart. We were both happy to have adventures, just not together.
So for a whole lot of reasons I eventually left our marriage. And that’s a scary adventure in itself. To be on my own in my late forties. To be a single parent two weeks of the month. To learn how to live with myself the other two weeks of the month.
To navigate the myriad of issues and emotions that have arisen in myself and in other family members impacted by my decision has been an adventure too.
And when I think about it, adventuring is what we all do, every day of our lives. Or if we don’t, I think we should. Because that’s when life gets exciting.
Sometimes adventuring causes fear, sometimes uncertainty and setbacks, but there are also great rewards, great growth and fabulous escapades to be had. When you are an adventurer, you never know what is around the next corner and life isn’t necessarily easy. But it is amazing in a whole lot of ways (including the stories you get to tell at dinner parties).
And I’ve learned that the Universe always makes sure that you meet exactly the person you need to at exactly the right time for each adventure.
So what’s over the horizon for this adventurer? I’m not sure. Building my business? Learning Spanish so I can see Cuba before it gets ruined by tourists? 4 wheel driving in the Kimberley of Western Australia? Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota? Going to Kerala, India for a yoga retreat? Helping my girls grow into amazing young adults who are prepared for their own life adventures? Meeting new people or having adventures with old friends? I can’t wait to see what happens next.
And I have to say, I’m pretty happy that I didn’t get eaten by those sharks all those years ago. Think of all of the adventures I would have missed out on over the years!