In my last two posts I talked about home, and what home is to me. Home to me is people, or a Catholic Church (which is really a Person). I do not miss places. I enjoy them when I am there. No matter how long I am there I find them beautiful, and no matter how long I am in different places I don’t miss the old ones. Perhaps because there is so much to discover in any one place, and perhaps because I try to enjoy everything I am presented with, I am always too busy enjoying my current place to miss my old place.
One interesting result of this way of thinking of place is that it radically (in the old sense radix: root; from the roots up) shapes my idea of adventure. To most people going somewhere they have never been before is an adventure, in and of itself. The very idea of seeing something new is exciting to most people, or terrifying, or inconvenient as the case may be, but certainly the novelty of a place they have never seen before is one of the key features of that place.
For me this is less true. It is true that I enjoy seeing new things, but no more than I enjoy enjoying old things. For this reason I consider it a very good thing that my job has forced me to go to new places and see new things. It has greatly broadened my mind and sharpened my mental and emotional appetite for beauty. It is a good thing, not because I would dislike the idea of traveling if I were not forced to, but because without that impetus I would probably be too busy just being wherever I was or doing whatever I was doing.
Simply going somewhere is not an adventure for me.
Neither is adrenaline. I have experienced my share of adrenaline. I have hunted IED’s with a knife and handheld mine detector. I have witnessed IED’s blowing up a mere vehicle length from me. I have been shot at with rockets. I have jumped out of airplanes. I have practiced martial arts and fought in full contact tournaments. I have blown things up, fired thousands of rounds until simply pulling the trigger was a chore, and broken into rooms with live bullets flying feet from my head. I have cross country skied into back country mountain passes and downhilled across miles of untouched powder (rather clumsily, I might add; my skiing skills are not the best. I have navigated across miles of wilderness alone with a map and compass. some of these things were fun in their own way, or terrifying, or merely a dreadful bother, depending on my mood at the time. All were thrills, at least at first.
None of them have satisfied me. Not one of them provides a strong enough reason to keep doing what I am doing, which is part of why I am getting out of the Army at the end of this enlistment. Thrill is not a reason for existing. An adventure ought to have a purpose, and only one purpose have I found that still seems meaningful to me. It is not “America’s Interests.”
It is not that I consider all of those “adventures” worthless. Each one served its purpose, although it was not necessarily the purpose I or anyone else thought it served at the time. I have grown from each one. I have succeeded where I expected only failure, and excelled when by all rights I should have flunked. I have also failed when I expected only success. I have met my limitations and surpassed them, met them again and been utterly crushed and unable to go one step further. I have cried out for help in desperation and been answered out of marvelous darkness. These are good experiences, I think, for any man to have in his younger days.
If nothing else they have given me this perspective, that I have tried them and found them wanting. At twenty-eight years old I can say confidently that love is the only adventure worthwhile. Love of God, first and foremost, and then love of everyone that He loves. Love is the only purpose that still seems meaningful to me.
But lo and behold! Love is meaningful, and for its sake and by its light every other thing is meaningful. Everything is an adventure. Everything is worthwhile and beautiful when done with that love.
That seems to me to be something worth learning.