The Greatest Adventure Of All
The Greatest Adventure Of All
by Ron Dultz
Every child embarks on a great adventure from the moment of its birth. That adventure is the search for his or her individual identity (or Self). The search for one’s Self is not a search for some second rate version of one’s Self, or imagined or illusory version of one’s Self, or artificial version of one’s Self. It is a search for that combination of thinking, feeling and being which is genuine and fulfilling, effective and productive, an accurately rendered Self portrait, and worthy of appreciation and respect.
The search for one’s Self is the search for who and what one really is, and for who and what one is going to be. It includes asking oneself such questions as: “What are my hopes and dreams? What are my goals? What type of life will I discover best suits me? What possibilities exist for me, given the person I am? What are my talents and abilities? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What are my interests? What do I want and need? What do I enjoy doing? What kinds of friends would best suit me? What are my beliefs and values? Given the person I am, what should I do when I’m bored or restless? Given the person I am, what should I do if I develop a bad attitude about life, about love, or about anything else which I find to be discouraging or disappointing? How can I best prepare myself for the life I am about to live?”
The human being in search of his or her identity need not envy the adventurous life of the world traveler, or wilderness explorer, or Alpine skier, or mineral prospector, or sports star, or movie hero, or corporate executive, or political activist, or super salesman, or inventor, or entrepreneur, or millionaire, or rock star because the greatest adventure of all is the search for one’s true Self.
The search for ME is filled with intrigue, excitement, wonder, challenges and rewards. It is a dynamic search that calls upon the best that is within us. It calls upon each of us to become that noble creature that is fully human, and that is our birthright if we can claim it. It calls upon each of us to mature into a creature that is beautifully complex, vastly capable, and endowed with wondrous capacities for learning, understanding, and experiencing life esthetically and meaningfully.
Self-Knowledge is King
All people would agree that a pilot must know a lot about the planes he flies, and a jockey about the horses he rides, and a carpenter about the various kinds of wood he uses in his trade, and a seamstress about the fabrics on which she labors, and a teacher about the subjects she teaches and the pupils she instructs. Yet, how much more important it must certainly be for each person to become expert in that Self upon which he or she must rely for a lifetime of activities and pursuits, for decisions of all kinds, and for the purpose of being an example to others.
Where to Look
To find out who one is, and what one is meant to be, one cannot simply wake up one morning and look into a mirror. Looking into a mirror reveals the one and only physical you, that is for sure; but the mental and emotional you are not that easily detected, and take a long time to unfold and develop.
To discover the real you, you must go on an earnest search. You must look deeply within yourself to discover and discern your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you must follow your thoughts and feelings wherever they take you because a single thought or feeling can lead to another thought or feeling, and that process can continue until a sequence of thoughts or feelings have played out on the stage of your life. But if you do not respond to that first thought or feeling in the sequence, you will never know the end result.
Sometimes looking within yourself is like going fishing on a big lake. Some days you don’t catch much of anything, but it is still fun trying. Some days, you catch the wrong thoughts and feelings (similar to a fisherman reeling in a tin can or other debris), and the more you think or feel, the more unhappy you get. Some days you will get lucky and catch a big one: a thought or feeling that is truly impressive, and which can play an important role in adding quality to your life. It will feel as good to you as catching a trophy-sized fish would feel to an avid angler.
Sometimes your thoughts and feelings are like riddles you must solve because they are not entirely clear to you. In looking for you, there is so much to find out and discover that you can never hope to discover all of it at once. You must be happy to discover small pieces at time, and once in awhile a large piece, and consider those pieces to be pieces of the puzzle that is you.
Besides looking within for the real you, you must also look outside yourself because being you is something you must do in the real world of people and things. You cannot simply do it inside your head. Through trial and error, you will gradually discover your likes and dislikes, what falls within you comfort zone, what inspires your interest and participation, and what your role will be. There will be some disappointments, failures and misguided efforts; which is an inevitable result of knowing so little about what is in the world, and how best to partake of it.
One’s knowledge of life and one’s Self improve by obtaining experiences. Experiences are both a learning tool and a method of enjoying life. If we think of all the joyous moments that have occurred in our lives, they were usually caused by an experience. From experiences we learn how to live life effectively, sensitively and meaningfully. We learn what is important in life, and how to manage the various aspects of our life. By means of experiences we can become interconnected with the affairs of the world, and can fully unfold as a unique individual.
But experiences do not always find a person. Often we must seek them out. So how does a person become an effective obtainer of experience? There seems to be a way of doing everything. There’s a way to drive a car, a way to pilot a plane, a way to play football. What is the way of obtaining experience?
To try to obtain a wide range of meaningful life experiences, a person should have an experience-seeking orientation to life; and good reasons for seeking experiences, such as wanting to find out about people, about what life has to offer, and about oneself. A person should be adventurous and curious, and sense that life is a smorgasbord of interesting people, circumstances, situations and events. The seeker of experiences needs to possess courage, resilience and determination because a life fully lived will yield some turmoil, conflict and adversity. The seeker of experiences gives up the safety and security of what is known and predictable to profit from what is new and different.
A person who is attempting to obtain a wide range of meaningful life experiences should always look for, and then attempt to pursue, all the people, things, situations and events which are found to be appealing until his or her interest has been satisfied or diminished. All of us run across incidents, situations or persons that intrigue or excite us, or to which we feel a strong personal connection; but often we do not attempt to participate in, or explore, those opportunities. Often we do not say to ourselves: “There’s something going on here that has meaning to me out of the ordinary. It would seem to be wise to pursue it; for I may find out something new about myself, about people, about life; or I might find something for myself.”
If a person is not prepared to become involved, even to go on a long adventure, when something or someone of interest crosses his (or her) path, the individual will never discover many truths, benefits and opportunities he (or she) was meant to discover. And if the young do not pursue whatever intrigues or interests them, they will never approach an understanding of life’s vastness, and they will never have a true feeling for its essence and limitations. Life is filled with meaningful situations and events, with the skills and accomplishments of people, with meaningful challenges, surprises, benefits and rewards, with things of use and things of esthetic value; but to find these things, one must be on the lookout for them and investigate them. It is as though we are looking for the ends of their strings. Once we find the end of a string, we need only follow the string back to its beginning; and along the way, we will find many surprises and benefits.
Sometimes weeks or months pass by without a person coming in contact with something which piques his (or her) interest. This could be called a dry spell. But when something of interest finally crosses a person’s path; when he (or she) gets a lead, then is the time to compensate for the drought with a vengeance by seizing the opportunity. A person should not bypass the chance for a meaningful connection or life-experience, even if circumstances are less than ideal and the outcome is uncertain.
Seeking experiences is as valid a part of one’s learning and development as any book can be. A person who is rich in life-experiences is likely to know more about how to live life and appreciate it than someone who is well-read, but has been far less exposed to the breadth and depth of what life has to offer. Educators, parents, siblings, and everyone who loves children and young people, should remind them, if necessary, that living life is a great adventure and an opportunity to be savored. If children and young people are not daily invigorated by the excitement and adventure of living, it could help them to focus more on experience-seeking and less on academic learning. Each of us is capable of finding, and housing within us, the beauty, wonderment and joy of life, as well as its meanings and possibilities; and these are enough to sustain the interest and appreciation of each of us for as long as we live – if we remain attuned to the possibilities that life has to offer. Life can be viewed from many different perspectives; but the best and most accurate way for youth to view life is as an adventure: a glorious, excitement-filled adventure of learning, experiencing and becoming. A healthy person will view life in that way because it is the true essence of a life fully lived.
Tags: Seekers Of Experience , Child Development , Adventure , Self And Identity , Learning And Education
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