Working 9 to 5

Who wouldn’t want to be an adventurer, constantly scouring the earth for lost tribes, intriguing paths, and new species (or even sitting in a small flat desperately searching for additional sources of funding)? Most people with a mortgage to pay, some might respond.

John Lennon one said something along the lines of ‘life is what happens while you are busy making plans’, which is all the more reason to just attempt that nagging dream, whatever it may be, even if it results in failure. You learn nothing from success; failure teaches us much more.

But it’s equally true to say that adventure doesn’t need to be an either/or. There is no reason why adventure and a standard working life cannot coexist as intertwined paths rather than parallel, untouching, ones. You can have a job, and have a life as an adventurer.

I will readily admit that on a daily basis, by the time you’ve got back from work, eaten, done some chores, watched some television and taken out the rubbish, there isn’t a lot of time to consider stepping out on an adventure. And I certainly like my bed too much to consider getting up any earlier than I absolutely have to.

However, it is possible. It’s possible to grab a map and investigate. There’s even, believe it or not, plenty of time to do it. With public holidays, weekends, and your working life’s holiday entitlement there are somewhere in the region of 132 days every year in which to seek out adventure. When you tot all those days up together, they equal more than one third of the calendar year.

The map you grab hold of doesn’t have to be one of those fold-out Ordnance Survey sheets depicting everything from ancient (sometimes imaginary) monuments to post offices via footpaths and river valleys. Nor does it need to be on any great scale. Ideally it will be the map of somewhere you don’t know very well: the information board of a rarely visited local park, or even the vast floor plan of an out of town shopping centre. When it comes down to it, there are really two options for adventure: going around something, be it a 400 metre track or Africa; or going along something, such as Hadrian’s Wall or a river. What’s important is the desire to search out the new (even if it’s simply heading in the opposite direction than you usually do), and to wonder what might be around the next corner.

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