Ah…adventure. I love that feeling. The feeling of the unknown that is to come the moment I step on the plane or set foot in another country.
Admittedly, I’ve been thinking about this more than usual because my seminar this semester is on the adventure novel. We’re into week three, and we started with a fantastic article by Georg Simmel called “The Adventure”. You can find the whole thing on the web, but there were a couple of points that really resonated:
We speak of adventure precisely when continuity with life is thus disregarded on principle – or rather when there is not even any need to disregard it, because we know from the beginning that we have to do with something alien, untouchable, out of the ordinary.
And then this:
No matter how much the adventure seems to rest on a differentiation within life, life as a whole may be perceived as an adventure. For this, one need neither be an adventurer nor undergo many adventures. To have such a remarkable attitude toward life, one must sense above its totality a higher unity, a super-life, as it were, whose relation to life parallels the relation of the immediate life totality itself to those particular experiences which we call adventures.
And the reason these points in particular resonated was that I saw myself in them. I’m a writer, I write of adventures. I feel adventure in my bones in this life. I need that adventure, that out-of-the-ordinary. And it could be as big as stepping on a plane or as small as heading to class or writing, knowing that this is leading me forward to…I know not what. But something. Though, as Bilbo learned, adventures are not all pony rides in May sunshine.
Oh. And yet.
We’ve been to the Moon and back. We roam out among the stars. We dive to the depths of the sea. And yet we don’t know everything. We never will.
There is still Romance and Wonder and Adventure in the world, small and big. It’s what we do about it that matters. It is, after all, a dangerous business going out your door.
So if you’ll excuse me…