It was a dark and stormy, uh… Wednesday morning.
Adventure beckoned, but the weather was hardly cooperating. I’m no stranger to getting soaked to the bones in a torrential downpour, but I prefer to step out the door with a headstart on the rain. A small cohort of fellow runners and I had paced out a friendly and casual seven kilometer neighbourhood run the previous night, and it had ended with cold rain water sticking our technical athletic shirts with clammy grip to our shivering skin, but we had started before the rain at least. Stepping out the door this morning into the torrent seemed like it would be welcoming a nearly immediate defeat. It was bound to clear eventually. Right?
If not, it was certainly a waste of a perfectly good day off. Well, maybe not perfectly good.
Listening to the rain through the screen door of my kitchen is a reminder that so much of my recent adventuring has been through a screen of another kind. Locked down through a pandemic has a million and one limitations, and not the worst of them (but certainly not the least, either) is the restriction of exploration. International travel is all but forfeit. Zooming off to the mountains for a weekend has been replaced by Zooming(TM) off to the office. Even just trekking into the local trails with friends is a collective effort in practiced physical diligence that is met with judgmental societal scrutity, and not undeservedly during this summer. My adventures have been reduced to a handful of carefully planned exclusive local runs, and watching others explore the world via films and pre-pandemic YouTube videos.
This is bound to clear eventually. Right?
I started this website to write about projects. Projects are vague things to define. Cooking sourdough or making ice cream, are simple crafts, but strung together as a patient effort of trial and error to improve and refine and methodically document successes and failures on that chain is a project. Sketching in a notebook is merely a distraction, but sharing and honing and researching a community of practice in an effort to become better at artistry is a project. Tending a garden is a hobby, but tracking the ecology of a plot of soil in ones own backyard for over a decade and measuring the outcomes of trying to manage and control that ecology is a project. So when I write that going for a walk in the local trails is probably just an activity it is also fair to follow my chain of logic to note that exploring those and other trails, mapping, photographing, and documenting the world that one accesses on foot across decades of ones life is also a kind of project.
I’ve been watching other adventurers turn their lives into projects. Blogs. YouTube. Instagrams. Enviously, yes. Inspired, very much so. Longing to participate in a meaningful exploration that sends a particular sort of existential justification to the world relating to what stepping out the front door between rainstorms really means to me and my temporary, fleeting impression of this world. Also, cautiously. I’m not seeking to become a shallow influencer or a branded individual. I’m not seeking to build an audience or monetize a trend. I’m not seeking fame or fortune.
And that’s the missing piece. Is there room in the modern world for someone who just wants to narrate the thread of their own life for that simple purpose. Is there still space to just make a project out of one’s existence?
I think so.
Out the window, past the good kind of screen, as I’m staring at these words in another, the rain is still pouring down. It is a dark and stormy Wednesday morning, a holiday, and a terrible day to be a rural explorer — at least one who prefers to start dry. Yet the adventurer in me is itching to step outside, past both screens and into the pouring rain.
Life isn’t about the single event, after all. It’s the thread of the story that strings all the crafts, hobbies, efforts, and activities into an adventure. Wet or dry. Rain or shine.