Saturday, September 3, 2011

I need an adventure

You would think since I'm a writer that I read all the time.


I rarely read. I mean, I read articles on Yahoo. I read other people's blogs. I peruse marketing magazines to keep up to date on my profession. But rarely if ever do I sit down and get lost in a book like I used to. I should; it's just that every time I think about it, I bump it down my list of priorities that I'll get to "when I'm done with this, that and the other thing."

But I love books. When I was younger, I lived for books. I was a regular at the Decatur Bookmobile. I checked out the maximum number, read them all, and returned them promptly the next week. I was - a bookworm. And what I liked best about reading was that I was transported. I was able to have adventures in my mind. As a "level-headed", practical woman, I never took the time to actually make adventures. Those were for risk takers - for the spontaneous. The courageous. Not me.

My favorite book as a child was "The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles". In this book, the Whangdoodle is a "fanciful creature of undefined nature," and also once the wisest, kindest, most fun-loving living thing in the world--until people stopped believing in it. When that lack of faith became widespread, the last of the really great Whangdoodles created a special land full of extraordinary creatures: furry Flukes, the sly High-Behind Splintercat, and the wonderful Whiffle Bird. But when an open-minded professor--the one adult who still believes in the Whangdoodle--joins forces with three children with active imaginations, they become an unstoppable team on a fantastic and sometimes terrifying journey to Whangdoodleland.

I remember my dismay when I realized that the adventures of these kids to Whangdoodleland were really all a product of their imagination. I was hoping it really existed - that it was a place somewhere on the map that I could mark with a thumbtack and vow to visit someday.

The other night, I read to my son one of our favorite books - Roxaboxen. This is a true story about a treasured place: a child's imaginary town named Roxaboxen. All the children created this "town" made of rocks, glass and desert plants. The rules of the town were simple: you make them up as you go along according to the whim of the day or the personality of the residents. In Roxaboxen, "Marian was mayor, of course; that was just the way she was. Nobody minded." Each child created their own "house", and the town was complete with a bakery, a cemetery (for the dead lizard), a police force and a jail (where you went if you were caught speeding). What a way to spend your summers.

Kind of reminds me of my old neighborhood, my kids' "Roxaboxen", and the adventures I had in the old farmhouse in Decatur where I grew up.

I'm wistful for adventure. I never went on Spring Break. I never took a trip to a foreign land with my high school. I never took any time off to backpack across Europe like my brother did. Probably the biggest adventure I've ever had was going to Mexico, where I zip lined, rappelled, captained a catamaran and snorkeled in some underground caves. I felt empowered, and amazed - like I was really living.

And I have a bucket list of adventures I'd love to have in my life. I wish I had more already in my back pocket, and not sitting at the bottom of a bucket waiting for me to have time to reach in. I still want to learn to rock climb, then venture out to the Rocky Mountains with a backpack and gear and see what I'm made of. I want to go to French-speaking Canada and see if my six years of French really ever paid off. I want to visit my niece in Denmark and get just a glimpse of the amazing sights and sounds and smells she has experienced since living there.

Then there are adventures closer to home. I'd like to become a part of a volunteer organization - to really somehow make a difference. I'd like to start riding my bike more and explore places around Illinois and see if I can do one of these 60-mile bikerides that some of my friends have done. It seems as if many of my friends have had their own adventures over the past few years. Running marathons. I'm envious of them, but this is not my bag. It's just not going to happen. Triathlons. I can swim forever, and I could probably muster the bike part, but again, running is NOT my thing. The most adventurous I've been of late is starting up a volleyball team.

I feel lame.

I know I've been busy. I raise my kids. I work to provide for them. Those are my priorities right now. But I need to make time to have some adventures of my own - even now at my busiest - and stop waiting until there is "time". Stop waiting until I can muster up the courage and JUST DO IT.

Maybe the first step is to start reading again. Read about those who have had adventures. Not like Everest or dogsledding or heliskiing. I'm not that extreme. Maybe I need to find a book about a mom just like me who got tired of waiting and decided to take some baby steps in her life just to make sure she was still breathing... still living.

Any recommendations? Let me know.

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