There’s another storm on the way. This time I’m in my old tent; the one with replacement zips and trekking poles to hold it up instead of the tent poles that I lost somewhere on Dartmoor. The wind is frightening. Tent is ballooning and then collapsing, but not leaking. My coffee, with just a little dash of brandy to stiffen it, is in danger of upsetting. So you’ll pardon me if I turn over to grab it. Just laying here on my sleeping pad listening to the howl of the wind and the rain’s drumbeat is both exciting and relaxing. I can give such a dreadful contradiction to you with assurance that you’ll accept it and maybe understand me.
Because it’s like the last storm, when we were sailing across the Channel toward Plymouth from Brest. Those squalls were marching along from the southwest like a regiment’s drummers. One after another, thundering away with threats of a broach if we were slow to roll in a reef; overpowering the biggest Atlantic rollers to slice off their crests and dash the frigid foam into our faces. And I stood double watches because half the crew were below fighting mal-de-mer. My fingers curled around the wheel in some death-grip that you could not release when I started seeing double as hypothermia set in. Grim. So why did we laugh so much? Screaming our joy as the yacht plunged down the face of those rollers and buried her bows in the trough before rising in majesty for the next wave. Ignoring the keel’s ton of lead waiting to drag us down upon making the slightest error. Scared and intensely happy.
Adventure is like that, isn’t it? Discovering that mountain peak or pristine forest or primordial jungle or blue voyage for ourselves. Doesn’t matter if people have been there before and taken photos and wrote books – it’s new to us. But also discovering and delighting in our strength and skill and competence. That’s not new; we have been working and practising and studying for years. It’s affirmation that we got it right that puts a smug little swagger into our demeanor. Perhaps it sets us apart from other people for a while, tempting us to feel superior because we survived; arrogant with our thousand-yard stare. Do you care much? Or are you dreaming like me of someplace or some thing more to experience?