As I’ve gotten into mid-life, I’ve learned more and more about who I am as a person. As I’ve looked back on things I love and enjoy doing and I’ve stared to discover a theme. I like exploration and adventure.
When I was 16 I wanted to get my driver’s license as quickly as possible. I had grown up without a car and I was getting tired of taking the bus everywhere. Plus, I wanted the freedom to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, I was an explorer by bus as well. We would go all over the Twin Cities, transferring from bus to bus, all the time. I would explore on my own, riding the bus at a young age. But a car… that was freedom. It took me 3 times to pass my driver’s test, but when I did, the very next day I went for a long drive. I went out to Stillwater and just enjoyed being free and seeing what I wanted to see.
When I got to college and adulthood I would also do a lot of walking. There were times when I would walk for hours, seeing if I could get somewhere on my own two feet. With the arrival of kids my walking became more confined to times when we went for a walk as a family, but when the kids were young, a long drive around the Twin Cities to get them to fall asleep wasn’t unheard of.
After my divorce I was living in Saint Paul for a couple of years, and I would usually park my car after work on Friday and then not drive it again until Monday morning. That meant doing all of my shopping and exploration by foot. It was a great way to clear my head, and I loved the challenge of going farther away without needing a vehicle.
When I moved back to Fridley I got a bike and starting doing a bit more riding. During this time I had also gotten in to running, and eventually trail running, which gave me another outlet for exploration. Most days I would just run my normal routes, but every now and then I would decide to just head a random direction, and figure it out as I went. Trail running also gave this sense of adventure, racing on new trails, or exploring a new park on the weekends.
A couple of years ago my wife and I picked up a small pop-up camping trailer. We discovered that we were spending a lot of money on hotels because we both liked getting out of town on the weekends. This opened up a whole new avenue of exploration as we could set up a home base as just about any campground we could find. It’s led us to explore as many of the Minnesota Sate Parks as possible, even if it’s just for a quick one night getaway.
This year I’ve decided to really pick up more biking. My work is in downtown Minneapolis and doesn’t have parking provided. So this means that I need to either take the train, bus, or bike to work. It’s opened up a whole new arena of adventure as I’ve had to figure out bike and bus routes to get me where I need to be, when I need to be there. It’s also slowed my commute down a bit, and allowed me time to look around and relax, instead of stressing in rush hour traffic.
All of this is to say that I’ve discovered that I really love adventures. As I look back on all these different facets of my life, it’s shown me that I’m happiest when I’m exploring and discovering new things. Even in my athletic endeavors I look forward to the journey, and seeing if I can make it to the destination, more than the act of competing. I think that’s a big reason why winter ultra marathons are so fascinating to me, and I’m anxious to try my first one this coming December.
I think a lot of this has to do with one of my key strengths in the StrengthsFinder profile which is ‘Input’. The strength of Input means that I’m a cataloger and collector. I like to put things in order and look at the systems around things. I believe that many of my adventuring tendencies are in some ways, an attempt to catalog memories of the world. A way to collect new experiences for my overall store of knowledge.
Knowing this about myself helps me to think about how I want to spend my time. It helps me prioritize what I want to do on weekends, or with my time off. I feel like I’ve really honed in on something that’s important to me, and that’s a great feeling to have. I don’t know that anything drastic will change in my life, as we’ve tended to be rather adventurous anyway, but knowing this gives some great context to the antsy feelings I frequently get. It makes me understand that even a simply bike ride for coffee on a Sunday morning can help scratch that itch that is my love of adventure.