Why is it that so many of us are constantly seeking out new adventures rather than being satisfied with our current situation? What motivates us to spend so much money and time exploring those places that others might pay to avoid? How can you explain that seemingly irresistible urge to see what lies behind the next mountain, over the next ocean, and around the next bend in the path?
The answer to those questions may seem self-evident, but it is not. And it does not appear to be something innate to human begins. We all know people who are quite capable of chasing adventure and yet have no desire to do so. In fact, the answers are so subtle and so ethereal that nowadays when asked why I do it, the only answer I have is, “If I have to explain it, you will never understand.” It is easier to say that than to admit I have no idea what drives me.
And even though I have given up trying to explain it to others, I am constantly trying to explain it to myself. Over the years I have come up with a very general explanation, but one that does seem to get to the core of the matter. People that feel the urge to seek out one adventure after another are either running from something, running to something, or both. And most of the time, we have absolutely no idea what that something is.
Many years ago when I went to Nepal, I went as a tourist and had whatever motivation is typically driving most tourist trips. Two years later when I finally left Nepal I don’t think it would be accurate to say I was still a tourist. Thinking back across the years I can neither fully explain my reasons for going nor my reasons for staying. Consciously, I don’t think I really had anything to run from, so I guess that leaves me running toward something which I am still unable to identify.
Some would propose that the need for constant exploration is the antithesis of mindfulness. They would say that by constantly looking for something new and unknown that we are entirely focused on the future and therefore not mindful of the present. I know something about being mindful, and I would say that exploration and the urge to explore are neither mindful nor unmindful. The very best explorers, travellers, and adventurers are certainly mindful. That is what makes them good at it. After all, mindfulness is that basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Isn’t that the absolute best state of mind to be in as we travel?