Pico Iyer: The Meaning of Adventure
In the new issue of Geographic Expeditions’ online magazine, Recce: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler, Pico Iyer writes an eloquent, moving and provocative essay on the meaning of adventure in modern life.
The essay begins like this:
Bells were ringing on every side of me, and I could hear hymns rising up in the dusk through a grating above the catholicon far below. The call to prayer struck up from a minaret nearby, and when I descended a narrow staircase, to where the crowds had gathered, it was to hear an ancient wailing and music that seemed to come from some previous world. Robed deacons were chanting above the richly colored holy books in the little Ethiopian Chapel and when I made my way into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself, it was to find myself in a little side-chapel, where a candle flickered and as she walked with a friend through the ill-lit space, a girl from France, probably 14 years old, brushed away her tears and then fell to sobbing again.
I’ve never been one of those intrepid souls who bungee-jumps from a high rock canyon in Utah, alas, or tries white-water rafting in Borneo; truth to tell, I’m probably too timorous or ill-conditioned for either. But look at those first two syllables in the very word ’’adventure’’: They speak for a sense that something wonderful is on the way, which is what I felt every moment in Jerusalem. For believers, ’’Advent’’ means the arrival of illumination or grace or redemption itself; but even for those without belief, the word seems to be standing on tiptoes, to offer a sense of bright expectancy and attention. It all but reminds you that adventure has less to do with the place where you’re going—or with what you’re going to be doing there—than with the spirit that’s propelling you on the journey. Every one of us knows how a trip across town can be an adventure, sometimes more than we would like.
To read the entire essay, click here: The Meaning of Adventure.