We’re always being told to make the most out of our youth, to do these things while you're ‘young’ and you’ve got the time, to live life fully before the looming cloud of adulthood and responsibility kicks in. What does this mean, and surely, how can we know before it’s too late?
Everyone is different in this vision. Some see a two month trip to South East Asia, all beach parties, vodka buckets and iconic landmarks as making the most of things, of squeezing in some travel, some freedom before they commit their life to something or someone else, ‘you can carry on with life now, you’ve done it, now get back to work!’. Some people I have spoken to are already in the mindset, before they’ve even headed out on their travels, that their short trip will be a mere tick on the ‘To do’ list, something to say that they’ve completed only to move on with the list, with their goal orientated life.
Yes, they’ll enjoy it and have fond memories but this is where it will end. Of course we aim to make the most out of our youth, but we shouldn’t do so in order to pinpoint the highlights of a life lived with the sort of freedom only associated with the chapters of our younger years, nor should we do it in a way to define who we are, we should see it instead as part of the overall growth.
For me at least, there’s no goal orientation with it, there’s no overall objective, it’s simply an embraced essence of life that I couldn’t live in any other way, and with this comes the flooding satisfaction of the thing which I believe we must always listen to and trust the most; our gut feeling. You should do what you believe in. Follow this feeling. Everything else is a lie.
When I cycled the length of India last year, it seemed to others on a practical level, quite silly, maybe time wasting, a lovely experience for sure but ultimately an escape away from the ‘real world’, I see it as escaping into the real world, towards the real world.
It’s a tedious, sweaty, enduring solo act, and I absolutely love it. Physically because of the extreme strains and challenges that I get to put my thinning body through, emotionally because of the heartache of leaving new friends and communities behind, only to dive into something new and further exposing myself to the next day's novelties.
My environment in England tells me to be focused on my career, on the important career-building steps that will lead me to a good job and a good salary. I chose to cycle across India, and therefore trigger an adventurous life, to escape this delusion. I wanted more, I knew I couldn’t call that life. It all seemed so systemised, so dry, and like there is, surely something bigger and better for ourselves.
Ultimately, I didn’t cycle India for the sake of cycling that far, or even for cycling that particular country in that particular direction, I did it as a symbol of my escape, as a metaphor for how I want to live my life. A life full of colour, hardship, challenges and new experiences. A physical challenge, paired with self-discovery.
This thirst for adventure and childlike enthusiasm for new experiences is something I believe we should all carry throughout life and not restrict to our age or position in life. It’s also important never to be influenced by other people's limitations and expectations, deep down we’re all young and able, so stay fresh and youthful in the mind and the world of adventure will be yours forever!
Words: Jack Few
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