Core Values Redux: Adventure

This post is part of an ongoing challenge to go through James Clear’s list of Core Values and take a week to reflect on each one.


This actually marks the fourth time that I’ve written about Adventure is some form. I first mentioned how it is interestingly tied to January 14th and India, when I finished the Rickshaw Run in 2012, left on a long multi-country trip culminating in an Indian wedding in 2015, and got the rickshaw as my first tattoo in 2016. Then I made an Adventure List, which is a sort of variation on a Bucket List. And finally I wrote about ‘Adventure, Knowledge, and Recognition’, three of the first five Core Values that I chose (the others being ‘Curiosity and Self-Respect’).

I like the term Adventure because it involves aspects of Achievement (where frequently there is a goal or destination) with Curiosity (moving into the unknown). I always think of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit, where someone asks Bilbo when he is going and he gleefully shouts back: “I’m going on an adventure!”

The Hobbit Film GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Like Bilbo, adventures intermingle excitement and fear, moving toward a final goal but unsure of the exact path. Sometimes they are undertaken out of necessity (think Frodo going to Mount Doom), while other times they are for the adventure themselves, and equally the lessons and experiences that we learn along the way (e.g. the Rickshaw Run). But they always involve a change of external circumstances inducing a change of internal orientation.

In looking at the etymology of the word, ‘adventure’ was first used around 1200 to mean “that which happens by chance, fortune, luck”. This in turn came from the Old French, aventure, meaning “change, accident, occurrence, event, happening,” which was from the Latin adventura “(a thing) about to happen”. Interestingly, those are all very different definitions and each distinctly different from the current definition: ‘an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks’ or ‘an exciting or remarkable experience’. So over the years, we’ve progressed: Something that will soon happen -> A change or occurrence -> Things that happen by chance -> An exciting experience involving risk. Perhaps it is modern times that romanticizes the idea of an adventure, but though the history of ancient epic tales casts doubt on this hypothesis.

Helen Keller stated that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” We are drawn to venturing out into the unknown, and that is a Core Value that I plan to continue to bring forth in my daily life.

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