My fears, those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things I had to get and reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.
Sometime around the age of seventeen, I had a new friend say something to me that would completely change the direction of my life. He said this in passing, and looking back, I’m actually 99% sure he won’t even remember having said it.
It was a summer night in 2011 when my new friend Wes and I were sitting on our friend Ryan Talty’s porch. We had met briefly before when Wes was in town from Deland, FL with my favorite DIY band of all time, Critter, but never had the chance to talk. On this trip however, we had bonded instantly during the show that had occurred down the street at the Circle-A Ranch (R.I.P.) when we saw that we each had a tattoo of the balloon from the cover of Modest Mouse’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.” Sometime in our conversation between skateboarding, pizza, and art, he told me that what he wanted to do with his life was to:
“Never stop adventuring. I want to see everything, and do something I haven’t done before as often as possible.”
It’s probably necessary to preface the rest of this story with a disclaimer: at the time that I heard him say this, I was a “bro.” That is to say, I was an unashamed, unabashed participant in the culture of Polo, Southern Tide, and the idea that the more expensive your clothes were, the better you were as a person. My big adventure away from that ridiculous idea had already begun with my introduction to DIY culture and affinity for the local music scene, but it was this quote that became the catalyst for my great change.
While analyzing the words he had said to me, I began to see life for what it is and I benefitted immensely from it.The word that stuck out the most to me was “adventure.” Life is one big adventure made up of a series of smaller ones, none less important than the last. Everything you do is a step on the journey to fulfillment. Whether it’s mountain biking, putting paint on a canvas, or walking to work, every moment of your day has the potential to change your life or someone else’s. Even if what you happen to be doing seems monotonous or painful, it is a step on the way to becoming the person you can be.
Set goals for yourself. These goals can be professional, but if you set the right goals they will not need to be work related, and they can still have an effect on your job. Read a book. Smile. Take a day off and go hiking. Make your daily goal to make three other people smile. Cook yourself a meal. Cook someone else a meal. Listen to your favorite album once a week, or once a month. Get out of your car that runs on money and makes you fat, and get on a bike or skateboard that runs on fat and saves you money. Whatever it takes for you to see life for the adventure that it is, do it! Most of all: don’t be afraid if life forces you to take a step back. Sometimes it takes a step down to find the footing you need to keep moving up.
The biggest advice that I can give you to help you find the path on your big adventure is simple: make art. Art is the fulfillment of an inner desire to find meaning in an otherwise messed up world. It can help bring a worthwhile catharsis when you ache for something meaningful, or take your mind off of whatever is troubling you. Art can be used to bring truth, or to bring a fundamental flaw or necessary piece of information to the attention of others in a palatable manner. In other words, art can give you a map on your biggest adventure, your entire life. And if you think you’re terrible when you start, that’s okay! Just like anything in life, the more you practice your instrument, drawing, painting, sculpture, whatever…the better you will get!
So listen, stop what you’re doing right now. Life is too damn short to read another motivational article and not do anything about it. You are already well into the greatest adventure that you will ever go on. Close your computer and go do something! Think about it, instead of browsing the Internet you could be riding a bike, starting a garden, starting a band, painting a picture, working with a community outreach, or already on your way up the side of a mountain! It’s never too late to stop simply existing, and start living.
What are you waiting for?