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Is it time to cut the cord?

“Take the risk and… go for it!” Boy, how many times have we heard a well-meaning person say that? If you buy into the current philosophy, it seems that only something extreme will give us an anti-dote for our mundane existence.

Back in my childhood, about the most adventure-based show was Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins and his faithful sidekick Jim. Each week we got a vicarious risky venture that freed us from our boring lives and helped salve over our monotonous existence of school, work and doing chores. We didn’t know we were supposed to bust out. We simply lived our lives and in many ways, well, we were content.

“Don't be a slacker; cut the cord!” Jacques Cousteau brought the world’s exotic fishes and mysterious oceans right into our homes via the expansive 14 inch tube color television and we got our fix up close and personal and boy, it was really something! The next day we went to school or work, happy to live our lives more enriched than ever.

There were no American Ninja or X-Games to expose how pitiful our weak existence is and thank goodness most of us have enough sense to understand that doing stunts like those are not for us. Unfortunately, unless we expose ourselves to something as trivial as jumping out of a plane, we are simply not living – or are we? Every commercial, every movie, and every adventure depicted anywhere says we are missing out and on top of that, a failure in life’s grand game. We are average in every way and should remain as fat spectators. Case closed.

If you didn’t go to Europe or Asia for 2 weeks, cycle the Alps or walk the Great Wall, you didn’t have a vacation. Of course you had to swim with the Dalai Lama or dine on tarantulas and don’t forget hand-feeding the Komodo dragons in the Galapagos Islands.

Phooey on all that, I say.  I do not need 50cc’s of adrenaline coursing through my veins to have a good time. I think breaking out of a routine is a good idea and healthy, but seriously? Going over Niagara Falls in a barrel is for idiots. Becoming a Navy SEAL is for very peculiar people and 99.9% of us will never ever be one, so stop kidding yourself. You don’t need to jog to the top of an erupting volcano dragging a kayak behind you to break out of your rut.

As kids, a simple game of sandlot baseball or a heated board game of Risk would keep us living life to the fullest for hours on end. We played Army or stood on a big log and sailed the 7 Seas and the things we witnessed in our imaginations made these competitions look pretty lame. Wait a second. Do kids still play outside like that?

“Hey, Bubba!  Watch this!” is still quit popular, especially with teens, tweens and 30-weens and if there is alcohol involved… Boom! The entertainment factor is exponentially increased and can only be interrupted by the siren on an ambulance. This last group are the ones who attempt to do the near impossible and I applaud their strenuous efforts, albeit incredibly stupid and reckless behavior is obvious to almost everyone present.

One such fellow came to work one day with a huge knot on the top of his head. When quizzed about the walnut-shaped protrusion, he candidly admitted to attempting a back flip in the middle of the street at night while standing on the curb. Of course he was drinking beer and I stood slack-jawed when he said these remarkable words, “Something told me I could do it.”

I suspect most of us do not need large venues with superstars, or action-packed thrill seeking distractions to enjoy a break from our routines. A campfire with a black cup of coffee at sunrise, or an Astros game on the radio while we fish Trinity Bay may be just the ticket. The absence of adrenaline may be ten times more stimulating than what we are led to believe.

A walk in the woods sans music-blasting headphones may just provide more music as the forest sounds filter into our battered brain. I love technology, but sometimes we need to shut it all off and listen to… nothing. Talk about a deviation from the norm! What does nothing sound like? Most of us can’t recall. We are too busy chasing the elusive golden ring that we will never catch. It’s akin to the state of being “cool”. You will never ever actually become cool, but you can be different.

You can break away and do those simple things that will truly make you happy and no, you don’t have to kiss a King cobra. Doable adventure is not necessarily sliding downward out of control and watching the bushes and trees slap you in the face before you plunge over the precipice. Attainable adventure is a state of mind and can be conquered in your living room. I’ve read books for this very escape since I was a child and it takes no special equipment… and it works every time.

Henry David Thoreau sat outside his cabin all day, from dusk to dawn. He did not get up to eat or use the toilet. He watched everything without disturbance and guess what? He claimed it was the most production and rewarding day of his life. How is that possible?

Join a gym and do things you never thought possible and by challenging yourself to do what you thought was unattainable, you will experience the adventure you so seek. It is in each of us to succeed, but only we can take that first step into uncharted territory. So, what are you waiting for?


Anonymous said…
DDC: Another great and encouraging column in The Baytown Sun this morning, Bert. Good advice! It came just in the nick of time for me, because I had just completed my application to try out for American Ninja Warrior. Missed it by that much!

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