We need non-digital adventure

Photo by Christine K via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A couple weekends ago I told Megan and Paul to get in the car, we were going on a secret adventure.

Anticipation in the car was high. Were we going for ice cream? Was dad taking us to a movie? Were we going to buy new video games?

All were possibilities. But none were realities.

Dad’s plan– Spend an hour at Barnes & Noble picking out books.

I thought you were taking us on an adventure, dad. This sucks.” Those were the words of my 8 year old son as we entered the store.

I explained, “You need to take your brain on a non-digital adventure. And books can take you there.” Every time they picked up a book it was tied to a video game or cartoon. “Non-digital adventure. Longer, older, think about the classics.” They complained, “I don’t want to read an old book. I want to read something new. New stuff is good, old stuff is boring.” 

In the end we made a compromise. They could each pick out whatever book they wanted. And dad picked out two books for them. (The first two books in the Narnia series.)

Megan took the compromise. Paul didn’t pick out a book and went home empty handed on principle.

I went home and planned our camping trip– A non-digital adventure of the mind, body, and soul.

Besides restricting use, what are ways you help your kids take their brain on non-digital adventures? 

Travel Video Clip

The Sea

ten things i have learned about the sea from lorenzo fonda on Vimeo.

I was mesmerized by this short film. Like the filmmaker, there is something about the ocean that speaks deeply to my soul.

If I had unlimited time to travel, explore, and write… traveling by cargo ship would be incredible. Am I the only one who looks at this film and says, 14 days from San Francisco to Xiamen? Yes, please!

ht to Likecool

hmm... thoughts

Adventure as a Discipline

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how wimpy people are.

There is something strange to me that people allow the most remote possibility of getting hurt, lost, robbed, missing a meal, missing a flight, or even not a clean place to pee define their lives. What a boring life they live.

I want my life to be full of adventure.

Not just big adventures– day-to-day adventures too!

It seems to me that people who like to plan everything, take as little risk as possible, and pre-think too many details are really missing something in life. With an entire ever-changing planet to explore it is inconceivable to me that people like to eliminate discovery and adventure.

There is something spiritual about adventure. We are hard-wired to explore, discover… and depend on the goodness of others. As children we dream huge dreams! We devour books about adventure. Every adventure we hear about we want to go on. We wanted to go to the moon and mars. We wanted to go Africa. We wanted to live in Central Park in New York City.

Stepping into an element of the unknown provides an incredible feeling. It acknowledges how God is in control and we are not. When we make adventure the enemy we lie to ourselves– God is in control of every detail all day, every day anyways!

I love stepping into the unknown with nothing more than a feeling that everything is going to be OK. I even like pressing through the fear of “um, maybe this isn’t safe” and then the joy of laughing at myself when it all works out.

I like depending on the kindness of strangers when I get lost. I like meeting new people in full recognition that there are no accidental meetings. I like discovering little things and big things. Those that look at these things as failures seem to think that life is meant to be sanitary.

When we start removing this from our lives we take control. When I hear people tell me that they don’t like to be surprised, that they need to know when they will arrive, where they will eat, and what every detail is– it makes me wonder what is wrong with them.

A spirit of adventure is not the lack of ability to plan. It is the lack of a need to plan every detail or measure every risk in life’s journey.

Adventure and Recklessness

There is a difference between the a spirit of adventure and a spirit of recklessness. It would be reckless to go on a 3 day hike up a mountain with no gear, no food, and no real plan. It would be reckless to jump off of a cliff into the ocean without knowing how deep the water is. It would be reckless to drop off 10 high school students for a homeless experience with no training.

But embracing life’s adventures is not reckless. There’s always a risk assessment. A general idea of a safety plan. On and on.

The goodness of others

I really think one of the things that holds people back is a belief, deep in our soul, that all people are out to hurt us. We think everyone is a potential ax murderer or rapist.

Hogwash. People are generally good. If you have a smile on your face and an honest question… you can go anywhere in the world and probably find someone who will help you when you get lost, give you a meal, find you a place to sleep, and give you good advice.

Adventure is an attitude. When you embrace it the world opens to discovery.

Questions: Do you see a spirit of adventure as a spiritual issue? Do you still dream about the same adventures you dreamt about when you were a kid? What is it in you that draws you to stories/movies/television shows about adventure?


Megan’s New Skills

DSC_1174It’s been a big summer for Megan. At eight years old she has visited 19 of the 50 states. (By her age I think I had been to 3 states.) She got to go to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia this summer. Since she is my road trip girl she took all of this in stride. Hadly a complaint along the way. Long car rides, plane rides, ferry rides, and train rides don’t really phase her. They just make her hungry to learn more, see more, and explore more. She is like her mother in that she can quietly take everything in or read a book to pass the time. Her intelligence amazes me. I hope that we are broadening her horizons fast enough to whet her appetite.

Back home it has been a big summer for her, too. This has been a summer of reading. She reads everything. We make multiple trips to the library every week to feed her habit. She got an LED reading light for her bed and now it’s not unusual for her to go to bed at 8 and stay up until 11 reading mystery novels. When she isn’t reading books, she is reading on the computer. She has been using Google for a couple of years now and can generally find what she is looking for. But in the Spring I introduced her to Wikipedia and her eyes grew massive. I’ve caught her a number of times going to Wikipedia to learn more about something she read in a book. Usually an animal or a country.

DSC_0582My girl also has a spirit of adventure. While timid at first, she likes to go fast and isn’t afraid of skinning her knees. Both of our kids amaze me with their adaptation skills. Mom and dad have this crazy idea that they want their kids to grow up embracing diversity and looking eye-to-eye with the urban working-class poor. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that Megan loved our day with Jeremy Del Rio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She played games and enjoyed a street fair there as if she’d lived there her entire life. Back home, we sent her to day camp with folks from the church where, again, she just jumped in and enjoyed the experience. On a more personal note, she proved that she is becoming a California girl… (1/4 of her life here, by the way) At the conclusion of day camp she went to the beach and learned how to surf. A couple weeks later she shocked up by learning to ride a bike in a single day. Then yesterday, the waves were perfect at Torrey Pines and she must have riden 25 waves in a row before giving up in exhaustion.

3rd grade is now just two weeks away. I have no doubt she will impress her teachers once again. With the move now firmly in the rear view mirror we hope that 2009-2010 is a year where she can get better established and settle into a life rthym that will carry through the rest of elementary school. My only fear is that she won’t be challenged enough.

family hmm... thoughts

The move is done!

Today was the last day of our lease at the old place. We really only had two items left that had to be retrieved. We had the base of our yard swing. Kristen loves this thing so I knew we had to get it taken care of right away. And we had our old car. Yeah, the one with the blown engine.

Tonight we went over there to get both. The swing seemed like the easy thing, so we loaded that into the back of the truck, no problem. Next, we charged the battery on the Camry for a while and after about 30 minutes of trying I got it started.

That’s when the race was on. Rather then pay $50 to tow the car I decided to drive it! Now, you need to know two things to appreciate this lunacy. First, we moved from the top of one hill to the top of another. So it was down 400 feet of elevation and back up the other side. (About a mile total) Second, the engine was running on two cylinders. That means there were two other cylinders busted and making huge bangs while the other two chugged along like a lawn mower.

So, down the hill and off we go. The brakes are super soft since I hadn’t driven the car since October. Yeah, big hill and bad brakes. Smart move.

Then, pulling onto University, I hear a nasty sound. As if a busted engine isn’t bad enough, the swing had fallen out of the back of the truck and was being dragged. I kept driving my car go-kart towards the house while Kristen figured out the swing. It was a freaky moment as we go separated. Not good.

I pulled into the bottom part of our neighborhood so I could check on Kristen. She was fine, just getting everything secure. So I started driving up through the streets with my loud banging engine. Driving up a steep hill with full knowledge that your car could stop at any moment is kind of fun. Not only was I trying to snake through my neighborhood, I was keeping an eye out for places to ditch in case I had pull over and call for a tow.

A few minutes later I pulled into our driveway and turned off the engine. A couple minutes after than Kristen arrived.

Kristen and I were giddy in completing our task. We knew we did something dangerous and it came out OK. The kids were nervous about the whole thing but after a few minutes were willing to celebrate with us. I told Paul, “Sometimes to do things adventurous you do it not knowing it’s going to be fine. That makes the adventure more fun.” He told me “OK” but I don’t think he was convinced.

Craziness over? Of course not! I needed to move the car a few feet to the right so we could park next to it in the driveway. Of course, the car wouldn’t start so we had to push it. Yeah, good times right there.

This was one of those nights where we shared a lot of laughs. Most importantly, our move is now officially over.

hmm... thoughts Travel

Travels with Stoney: The Prelude

travels with stoneyThe trip begins in just two hours. Everyone is still asleep at my in-laws house but I’m wide awake. Go figure. There are a couple pre-trip things I thought were worth mentioning.

#1 Travels with Charlie. If you’ve never read the Steinbeck book which this trip is named after you should check it out. Travels with Charlie: In Search of America is a classic.

#2 Participate in the journey. You can track our journey here. The best way to get in contact with us on the trip is by leaving a comment. Through the magic of mobile internet I’ll get your comment pretty soon. Feel free to ask Megan, Stoney, or Adam pretty much anything about our trip. We’ll either comment back directly on the blog or in a video. I can’t guarantee I’ll answer any emails during the trip.

#3 Track our progress. Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be posting a lot about the trip in 140 characters or less. Also, I’ve started using Bright Kite. So if you use that you’ll want to friend me. But if you don’t, my Bright Kite updates appear on my Twitter feed. If we follow one another, just remember that the best way to contact me on the trip is to leave a comment. I’m going to try to minimize my “driving while twittering.” Twitpics are another story. I tend to do that while I drive.

#4 Meet up. Check out our route. We’re still open to meeting up with people along the way. Again, a comment is a great way to make that happen. I’ll contact you via the email you leave in the comment dialogue.

#5 Videos. Megan and I will be making daily videos of our travels. I can’t guarantee a regular broadcast schedule or anything like that. Nor can I guarantee what will be on them. But if you know me, you know they should be fun.

#6 Today. In just a couple hours the first leg of our journey begins. This takes us out of Michigan, through the left half of Ohio, bisecting Indiana, and landing on the eastern shores of Illinois.

Bon voyage!