A Day of Adventure

by Dr Angel Adams, Dr Patricia Papciak

“Not just a white little
tucked-in-tight little
nighty-night little
turn-out-the-light
little bed
instead …

a Bed for Fishing
a Bed for Cats
a Bed for a Troupe of Acrobats.

The right sort of Bed
(if you know what I mean)
is a Bed that might
be a Submarine
nosing through water
clear and green,
silver and glittery
as a sardine.”

– From The Bed Book by Sylvia Plath

The word “adventure conjures up many different ideas for different people. The first thing in our heads might be something that happened on a camping trip or a vacation somewhere. Why is that? Is it that something happened that was unexpected? Sometimes we hear people say, “Well I had quite an adventure today.” And then they tell of a mishap on the road or someone extraordinary they ran into while out and about. Books are often entitled, The Adventures of … and they tell stories of intrigue, real or imaginary.

We would venture to say that the word adventure generally elicits a positive response from people. It makes one curious about what the “adventure” is or was. Even if the adventure turns out to have a negative ending, there is something mysterious and engaging about the idea that something happened to someone that was unexpected. Our natural curiosity leads us to want to know what happened to that person. Certainly titles of books contain that word because authors believe people will want to read the book that tells of adventure. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the Harry Potter books, which are full of adventures, are one of the most popular books among kids in the 21st century.

Helen Keller said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.” For many of us life can be very difficult, certainly in these difficult economic times or raising a child who has a mental health or physical disability. One might awaken in the morning with a feeling of depression or anxiety in anticipation of another day of dealing with the familiar problems that must be confronted. What would it be like to wake up in the morning and look at this day as an adventure? Think of some small unexpected thing you could do on your own or with your child.

There is always risk involved in trying new things, even in trying to make an adventure out of an ordinary day, but if you don’t try, if you don’t risk, you will most likely encounter another day very similar to the ones you know so well. Risking new things makes you strong and it sets an example for your children so that they won’t be afraid to step out and try something new.

Image: A bear diving for fish

Perhaps you might get up early and put on some music that your child isn’t used to hearing and you say to your child. “This music reminds me of…”.

Walking in the woods. Why don’t we take a walk when you get home this afternoon? We’ll take a snack and go somewhere we’ve never been before.

Being in the kitchen with my mother when I was young. Why don’t we make cookies after your homework is done?

Planting a beautiful garden. Why don’t we go to the garden centre after school and buy some seeds to plant or a potted plant to watch grow in the kitchen. If you’ve never read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, you could combine the reading of this book with your planting. Like the word adventure, secret arouses the curiosity of a child.

Some other ideas:

  • Going fishing
  • Having tea by the fire place
  • Painting the bedroom a different colour
  • Walking at the old church and imagining the lives of the people whose names are on the gravestones
  • Creating a treasure hunt in the back garden

Although it is well know that youngsters with autism do not like change, once in a while an attempt at adventure can be very positive. The reality is that we live in a world that is full of changes, and perhaps a small change in routine for both parent and child is worth the risk. You can start off with a small adventure and gradually add more as the child adapts to changes into their schedule. You can also do something that is fairly routine, but by bringing it up at an unexpected moment, it changes your routine into an adventure. These small adventures can be combined with other things that can be done in the afternoon or on weekends and both you and your child can look forward to the activity.

Sometimes it is so difficult to get outside ourselves and our daily routines to think in terms of broadening our perspective and opening ourselves to the possibility that life may hold in store for us something unintended, some adventure that might open yet another door of intrigue and add dimension to our lives.

In Scott Peck’s book: The Road Less Traveled, there is a section discussing love. Peck talks about “the risk of loss. He says, “The act of love – extending oneself requires a moving out against the resistance engendered by fear. Let us turn now from the work of love to the courage of love. When we extend ourselves, our self enters new and unfamiliar territory, so to speak. Our self becomes a new and different self. We do thing we are not accustomed to do. We change. The experience of change, or unaccustomed activity, of being on unfamiliar ground, of doing things differently is frightening.” Although Peck is directly referring to the idea of risking love, when you try to do new things with and for the people you love, your children, or your spouse, or a friend, there is risk involved. You are on “unfamiliar territory” and so are they. You aren’t sure how you are going to feel or how your loved one is going to feel about your adventure, you’re venturing out to something new. Scott goes on to discuss the courage this requires and to use and old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Sometimes when we tell others that we are imagining doing something or have done something that is outside of our daily experience, their response is, “Are you crazy?” They tend to be more comfortable with what they see as the norm. They are more at ease when their friends or loved ones are behaving in the manner that they expect. It takes courage to persist when your friends respond negatively to your adventure.

When we read books about people we do not know, we admire their courage to sail around the world, to spend years studying wild animals in Africa, to write a book about what they believe with full knowledge that their ideas are not what most people think. When Steve Jobs, (the founder of Apple Computer) was a young man he said he wanted to put a dent in the universe. He wrote:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma,
which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

One very small courageous step can lead you in the direction of your own great adventure.

Image: A painting of a family by the sea

© Brendan Papciak, 2009


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