Want Adventure? Say "Yes" More Often.
By Peter Lourie
People always want to know how I pick the next adventure. Truth is, I’ve got a ton of ideas and a list a mile long. When it comes to the big, multi-year explorations, the real challenge is whittling one or two down that editors might want to commit to, so I can begin to buy equipment and plane tickets. But those are big undertakings like my most recent book, Locked In Ice, which will hit the shelves in Janaury after five years of development. Talk about an adventure!
Between and during those big-ticket items, I make a point of exploring anything that pops up on my radar. I paddle rivers and lakes with friends and venture all over the place to test new ideas even without a publisher’s commitment.
In fact, I’m writing this post from Tucson, Arizona where I’m currently following a new lead. Tomorrow, I head to a remote area of the northern Mexican state of Sonora, into some thorn-scrub mountains to a jaguar reserve. I have no idea if this trip will be the beginnings of a book or a film or anything. I’m going because I’m curious.
When I learned that a bunch of jaguars live in Northern Mexico, sometimes crossing into Arizona, and that one was even now roaming the hills just south of Tucson, I had to know more. Since I love to be in the place itself, I made plans to go the Northern Jaguar Project’s 55,000-acre reserve for a few days. Even if I don’t see a jaguar (some vaqueros have worked for decades in the area and have never laid eyes on one), I’ll know that jaguars could be roaming nearby through the night. But I’ll be camping in jaguar country where more than fifty distinct jaguars (each can be identified by its spots) have been photographed on camera traps that the biologists and ranchers have placed on their land.
For this trip, I plan to take as little as possible. I want to go naked, so to speak. I want my eyes open and my senses focused on my surroundings. I hear that the Sierra Madre Mountains and the reserve within them are magical places. If I fiddle with cameras too much, I might miss something incredible.
I really have no idea what I’ll find on this trip. I’m going to try to do what I ask my college students to do when they pick an adventure for my Adventure Writing class—proceed as the way opens. In fact, that’s the class motto. It’s an old Quaker saying that William Least Heat-Moon had tacked up on his boat, Nikawa, when I helped him across the country for his book River-Horse.
What a great saying—Proceed as the way opens. I love it, but now I have to practice what I preach. My students love it because it comes to them like an unexpected visitor. Excellent, hard-working students, they have strived all their lives to succeed. And now inherent in this aphorism is a letting go in order to succeed, a sort of un-striving.
In Mexico this week, I’ll need to trust that same instinct, to believe that the way will indeed open, somewhere, somehow. It always has for me and it’s the adventurer’s job to trust that it always will. The path always opens.
Or does it? Maybe this time it won’t! We shall see….Serenity Now!
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The spellbinding biography of Fridtjof Nansen, the pioneer of Polar exploration, with a spotlight on his harrowing three-year journey to the top of the world. Before Shackleton, there was Nansen.