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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Chasing the sublime

How to live your life like an adventure
A photo taken in August 2023 during a hiking trip at Miner’s Peak in Alberta, Canada.

This is a picture near the top of Miner’s Peak in Alberta, Canada. 

I took it a few months ago where, for about 10 minutes, I sat five feet away from death and one foot away from paradise. Just a typical weekend. 

The photo came after half a day of hiking up a skyscraper-sized rock. That day, my friends and I stepped from grass to sand, to rock, to rubble, finally reaching the summit of the mountain. At this point of the trail, the other hikers had all but disappeared. That left us alone with a piercing wind that howled louder and louder. 

And it was that wind that also made every step we took become heavier and heavier, like each of us was pulling a car behind us. At the same time, I was just trying to keep my balance as the gumball-sized rocks below my feet caused a landslide with each step. 

But somehow and someway, after hours of fighting, we reached the peak. 

When we finally sat down at the edge of the cliff, the experience became so surreal. After hours of debating, I have settled on the perfect word: sublime.

It’s the idea of being so close to death — nearly inches — yet somehow feeling the most alive and animated as ever before. As I stared down below me, thousands of feet of rocks and trees sat below. Above me, the wind blew in every direction, leaving my sweaty palms gripping onto the gravel I sat on. 

Eventually, my friends and I came back down and drove home, leaving the mountains and gravel behind; but something I didn’t leave up there was that sublime feeling. 

See, in the coming days and weeks, long after the trip, that sense of euphoria stuck with me. Like an addict experiencing his first high, I just couldn’t shake off the experience and wanted more. 

How can I make every day of my life feel like the summit of Miner’s Peak? 

Is this even possible? Wonder without travel? Can anyone live their life like an adventure without spending hundreds of dollars traveling the world? 

After a few months of tweaking my mindset, I think so. 

While we can’t all go hiking the Canadian Rockies every Friday, many ways still exist to evoke a sense of adventure into your life. 

Here are three simple ways anyone can turn their life into an adventure: 

Accept the gamble 

All this started from a trip that was never my idea. I’ve never really enjoyed traveling; the sketchy plane flights, drowsy jet lag and uncomfortable mattresses always left me thinking twice before booking any flight. Home was always just “more comfortable.” 

I know a lot of this is due to human nature; we are comfort creatures. Evolution for hundreds of years primed us to stick to the comfort of our caves and avoid the scary unknown. Made sense then, but not so much now. 

Everyday life is full of similar choices: 

Go out tonight, or stay inside and finish my book.  Keep picking the same math courses I’ve been taking for the last 18 years, or roll the dice on philosophy. Talk to that stranger next to me in statistics, or quietly continue browsing Instagram. Try that new restaurant that opened downtown, or keep driving through my same Chipotle order. 

Now, there’s nothing inherently right or wrong about these choices. In the same way I was five steps away from death or paradise on that peak, so are our choices in life. 

Talking to a stranger on the bus is always five feet from a catastrophe of monotonous conversation or five feet from a new relationship. 

Trying out a new class subject is nearly inches from being a living hell of dullness and struggle, or a brand new passion or career to pursue. 

Visiting a new restaurant could be a coin toss between an afternoon of unhappy taste buds, or a new place to show everyone you know. 

By definition, an adventure always involves risk. To be an adventurer, you must be open to new ideas, even if they may appear unattractive. 

Always accept the gamble. 

Smile now, smile harder later 

As stated by Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. 

While I was sweating my heart out scaling that mountain, two things were on my mind: I’m going to die, and, hey, if something terrible happens, at least I’ll have a story for later. 

Adventures are filled with discomfort. Things will go wrong, and the best way to combat the discomfort is to embrace it. Laugh at the crummy hotel or tent you are sleeping in. Smile that you at least had the balls to try a computer science class while all your fellow psychology colleagues continued sticking to humanities. Shrug off the fact you are running late to the concert because “the first hour is usually spent waiting either way.” 

Keeping a positive attitude in uncertainty is vital to being an adventurer. Unless it’s truly a life-or-death situation, relax and remember that it usually will make a cool story once you are out of it. 

Keep a journal for the time travel 

Socrates said it best: an unreflected life is not a life worth living.

One of the few ways I was able to describe that “sublime” feeling vividly in the intro was because I wrote it down at the top of that mountain. 

Half the part of having an adventure is being able to tell the story. In “The Hobbit,” the only way Bilbo can show his son the entire journey is by writing it down. Real life stories are similar. 

See, memory is an awkward part of the mind; after enough time passes, we often can’t seem to recall the simplest things from past days. An easy remedy to this is to write it down. Keep a journal and record what’s going on every day. After some time, you will amount entries in dates you can barely remember. 

That’s where the magic of journaling lies: rediscovering old memories, thoughts and stories. It’s almost like this form of time travel, allowing you to “visit” past versions of yourself and play out one-sided conversations. 

That’s how you find your stories — you don’t have to travel to Middle Earth to slay a dragon or participate in a bank heist. Oftentimes in life, we discover the best adventures months or years after they happened. 

But first, you have to write them down. So maybe try out some of these tips; they might surprise you. I know in the process of writing this I’ve randomly found myself in the mosh pits of emo concerts and drag shows at 2 a.m., meeting all sorts of diverse people from niche places like bus stops, elevators and carpools and three months into learning programming alongside my liberal arts degree. 

Safe to say, life becomes pretty interesting when you find yourself chasing the sublime.

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