A tiny piece of paper fluttered to the floor when I dislodged one of my fridge magnets. It was a message from a fortune cookie that I had forgotten about. It said, “Joy comes from adventure today. Time to shake the world.” I can’t recall what day I got this memorandum, but I put it on the fridge, so I must have thought it was important. Maybe that was the day I went WAY out on a limb and bought mint-flavored dental floss.
Still, they say that there are no accidents in life. I took the cookie’s edict as a sign that I should blog about it. Coincidentally, I actually had been thinking this past week about being a bit more adventurous. The last time I stepped out of my comfort zone I had parked the car in a different garage than I usually do and panicked when I couldn’t find the exit.
Real adventurers travel to far-flung corners of the globe. They shoot white water rapids in tiny kayaks, jump out of high-flying aircraft, sleep in tents and come face to face with grizzly bears. This is not me. I think I’m being a daredevil if I eat a banana after 7 pm.
Adventure can be a matter of degrees, though, I believe. And even those of you, my friends, who consider yourselves to be true swashbucklers, you too would pause when comparing your exploits with someone like this guy: Bryan Smith, the award-winning National Geographic cinematographer whose presentation we attended a week ago at the Victoria Theatre here in Dayton.
Smith is a specialist in filming seemingly impossible, extreme feats of outdoor adventuring. His passion is discovering remote, uncharted corners of the globe where he and his crew kayak over steep rapids or climb the world’s most challenging peaks. He thrives on pushing his own limits to get gripping shots of people doing unbelievably dangerous stuff. The videos we saw during his lecture were nothing short of jaw-dropping, adrenalin-inducing, heart-stopping, breath-taking, daring-do exploits. My heart pounded even though I was comfortably seated in a darkened theatre. My chocolate pecan chunk cookies and glass of 1% milk waiting at home was a welcome sight, I can tell you!
But, just when we thought we’d seen enough heart-stopping excitement, Smith upped the ante. In 2012, he and his crew filmed a guy named Dean Potter who is a renowned American “free climber.” Meaning: Potter climbs mountains without any equipment. No ropes. No harness. No crampons. Nothing. Just his hands and legs to propel himself upward. They showed him dusting his hands and feet with, what I assumed, was resin in order to maintain a no-slip grip. And I was thinking, “Dang! That has to be hard on your hands! I wonder if he has some Neutrogena in his fanny pack.”
But up he goes. And then this fearless fellow throws himself off cliffs wearing a wing suit that makes him look like a giant flying squirrel. His most notable jump was from British Columbia’s Mount Butte, a rugged 7,546-foot elevation. Potter walked out onto a 40 foot diving board that Smith and crew had engineered to cantilever off the mountain face held only by cables, and he took off as though he were an eagle fledgling testing his wings. He soared through space to a meadow below. If you don’t believe me, google it – search on “The Man Who Can Fly.” Seriously wild stuff.
Once we had all caught our breath, at the end of his talk, Bryan Smith encouraged us in the audience to get out and push ourselves beyond our boundaries. Test our limits. He has been quoted as saying that “extreme” is “whatever is scary to you.” So, I decided then and there that I AM adventurous! Just not quite as adventurous as these guys. I will take up Bryan Smith’s charge. I am about to shake up my world. Tomorrow I’m switching from Cheerios to Raisin Bran! Ooo! A shiver just ran up my spine!