I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my next big adventure will be.
There are a few exciting possibilities on my list, but, just between you and me, I’m a little bit worried about embarking on another adventure. And when I say ‘a little bit worried,’ I actually mean: I’m absolutely freakin’ freaked out.
While my intrepid side enjoys gazing into distant horizons, dreaming of escaping somewhere new, sampling exotic foods, and discovering stunning new locations, my anxious side (which happens to be a very big side, by the way) is squirting obscene amounts of adrenalin into my system. I’m scared of … well … everything.
I blame my parents.
When they conceived me, they were neglectful. They gave no consideration to the size of my amygdala: an almond-shaped nuclei in the medial temporal lobes of my brain. Responsible for processing emotional responses such as fear and anxiety, my amygdala — so says the doctor — may be oversized. Apparently, it’s common in creative types, and while I’m not creative enough to cut off my own ear, I do have creative tendencies.
So, yeah — thanks a lot, Mum and Dad. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.
Now that you can forgive me for being totally neurotic (it’s not me, it’s my amygdala!) here’s a list of the fears that keep me awake at night when it comes to planing another adventure.
Death by dangerous creatures.
Adventure involves a lot of time in the outdoors, at one with nature and the creatures of the earth. In my fantasy, I’m a woman of the wild, with long hair, sun-kissed skin, sculpted muscles, and clothes fashioned from buckskin. Wild horses with manes of silk gather before me when I whistle.
So far, that hasn’t happened.
When I go bush, I’m almost always covered head-to-toe in weeping insect bites. Spiders get in my clothes, and birds swoop overhead, squawking in a way that can only mean: Move away now, bitch, or I’ll peck out your pretty little eyeballs! Snakes coil themselves inside my warm shoes and inject deadly venom into my toes …
… Okay, that last one never really happened but it can happen, and it has happened in my imagination. Many times! And that’s possibly worse than the real thing.
Death by murders, rapists and sickos with sickles.
I live in Melbourne city — a pretty safe place by world standards — and, yet, I often wake up in the night after hearing a loud bang or a strange noise. What was that? Someone breaking into my house? Someone with an axe?!!
I recently had my landlord install window bars on the house and, not long ago, I called the police on a man loitering outside of my front door, convinced he was a thief. (Turns out the neighbor’s friend had the wrong house number.)
So traveling through remote places, such as Psychoville (Population: 1) makes my melon-sized amygdala throb.
Death by dehydration.
I like water. I really do. When I venture away from a tap, I always carry too much water. This can be a big problem when I’m overnight hiking and my knees are responsible for carrying the burden of my excessive fear, especially since I also need to carry the wine. (Hey, don’t be judgmental, it’s nice to have a reward after a long hike!)
But on an extended adventure, carrying all the water I need on my back is not possible. Nor is carrying all the required wine. So it’s a dilemma.
Death by carbohydrates.
I love salad. I adore gourmet food. I *heart* city restaurants. But adventure always involves remote locations and living off long-life food. Noodles, pasta and canned anything is, for the large intestine, the equivalent of packing terracotta clay down your kitchen sink. Fruit and vegetables are nature’s Drano and bad things happen when you eat too many carbs. I’ve been there, it’s not pretty.
Death by bad fashion.
Let’s face it — adventure looks better on men than on women. Zip off pants, greasy hair, gritty faces, sweaty pits, stinky cracks. Okay, so it doesn’t look that good on men either.
I’ve Googled “stylish adventure clothes” and Google, in return, has laughed at me. “You’re looking for what now, fool? Bah-ha-ha!”
I once spent eight hours choosing a sporty-but-stylish watch online for my travels. No kidding, eight hours. I know, I know, it’s pure vanity, but I’m a designer by profession and if I didn’t value aesthetics, nobody would hire me.
Death by failure.
If you take on a bold pursuits, people expect you to finish. Nobody likes a quitter. But this is usually how my inner-dialogue goes when I’m attempting anything challenging:
Inner-coach: Com’on, girl, you can do it!
Me: You really think so?
Inner-coach: Honestly, no. Since you’ve never actually done anything like this before, I put $100 down on you failing. Sorry.
Me: Smart choice. Actually, I’m cold and tired and I’m really hungry. I’m pretty much ready to give up now.
Inner-coach: Yeah, me too. We’ve been doing this for five minutes. That’s long enough. Wanna spin through that drive-thru burger joint on the way home?
Me: I’m so glad we get along.
If I’m so wimpy, why torture myself with another adventure?
When you look at the list above, you’ll see that I’m getting soft in a way that only a privileged first world citizen can. I’m clinging to my own survival like it’s something I can bubble wrap, store inside a temperature-controlled safe, and preserve forever.
I can’t keep it. It’s a loaner. One day, I’ll have to give it back. Maybe to a snake. Maybe to a carb blockage. Maybe to a heart attack. Maybe by planking in the wrong place at the wrong time.
All deaths are unpleasant deaths. They’re all random, untimely, and tragic.
We fear death because we love life and we don’t want it to stop. Which, if you ask me, is kind of beautiful.
If we avoid everything that makes us nervous, we won’t have much of a life left to love. Death will eventually be a welcome respite to living as a hermit with 1,500 cats and a disturbing hoarding habit.
So screw you, freakishly oversized amygdala. You will not suck the life from me.
Now, first things first: who has some Valium?
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