a thin line

This jumper has a long history. Adventures, peaks, first ascents (for me anyway), many camp fire stories, its travelled the world with me. Its one of only two fleeces I own (The other being the one I was given when working with the British Olympic Mountain Bike squad in 1996). My parents bought me this fleece in 1988/9, I can’t remember the exact year, but I do know it doubled up as a secondary school jumper for a year or so. Its nearly 30 years old, its lasted well, and while it is now a little threadbare on the elbows, it still makes for a very warm gardening jumper.

More importantly, it serves as a reminder of what I am going to call the ‘catch 22 of adventure’.

Following on from my last post about adventures with children, I wanted to talk a little bit more about this catch 22 of adventure.

At a time when I am striving to spend less money, less time online, use less plastic, buy less clothing and equipment; many of these things are, or at least seem necessary in order to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.

The reality of it is that I don’t need the latest and best item of clothing, or trail shoes, or tent, or canoe, but, I do need something to wear, I do want to be comfortable, warm, dry, safe, and so do the children. I want to be well equipped; being cold, wet, tired and hungry is most definitely type 3 fun1

Over at iRunFar, an essay was published called ‘In Offense of ‘Outdoors Incorporated’, and it is quite thought provoking. The essay start by talking about the kind of imagery we find in magazines, websites, social media, etc. surrounding adventures, and says:

This imagery exists in whole to reinforce a blatant lie that permeates our culture, and lifestyle at large: “Buy me! You need me! Without me, you cannot possibly fulfill your dreams!”

I face a visual onslaught of amazing tech gear each time I look at instagram, and to be honest, I want a lot of it. I find a way to justify needing it.

In the same way that has been written about by many people, many times2, including my own musing in my last post, the (social) media tend to present life (or adventures) in near perfect form3. Don’t get me wrong, I like good photography, and good, honest story telling, well crafted adventure journalism such as Sidetracked Magazine, but I have to remind myself, every time, that, to (probably) misquote John Berger:

never should a story be told as if it is the only one

Anyway, back to the point of this post… This year, I am going to try to be more conscious of the the Catch 22 of Adventure, and navigate the thin, blurry line of what I need vs, what I want, as best I can. I will need adventure gear, in fact, I have a whole list of things I want…, but what I need to do is take that list and look at what I really need, rather than what I want. This is a life skill I want to improve on, and pass on to my children.

So, here’s to 2018, a year that I hope will be filled with adventure, adventures that will look amazing, but that will also be accompanied by a little bit of honest dialog about what else is going on.

1 Apparently, there are three types of fun. 1. Fun to do, fun to remember, 2. Not fun to do, fun to remember, and 3. Not fun to do, not fun to remember. How many of your childhood adventures were type 3 fun?
2 Read this article please
3 Even some of the ‘real me, look how dishevelled and sweaty I look’ photos are ‘perfect’.