I’d be lying if I said that watching Indiana Jones as child didn’t have a domino effect in my life leading directly to my being in Nepal right now. In fact Indiana Jones, it’s been said, has inspired many to adventure and to Archaeology in particular. I remember listening to a lecture on Archaeology in which the professor said he always asks his students if Jones was a factor in there deciding to go into Archaeology and every time almost everyone raises their hand “Yes.”
For those seeking a Jonesesque adventure the reality may be a bit of a come down. While he may be able to go round for round throwing punches with Nazi brutes in Axis-controlled North Africa most people who caused that much trouble for the Ahnenerbe (Nazi Dept. of Archaeology) would be lined up and shot. Imagine illegally entering North Korea today and then blowing up one of their air bases. Yeah, that what’s would happen. In reality adventure is much simpler than proving the truth of the Hebrew God or freeing a region’s worth of children from slavery in India.
Adventure is simply embracing the unknown and relishing it. Getting on a motorcycle with all your worldly goods bound for an unknown destination is an adventure. Being assaulted by a gang of children pulling your arms and asking for money and chocolates is an adventure. Climbing a frozen waterfall in the dead of winter is an adventure. Accepting an invitation from a stranger you met on the road to tea in their home where you find friendship and are invited back time and again is an adventure.
Getting out of the door if the first key. But let me say right here that travel alone does not guarantee adventure. Like anything else in life it’s your attitude that defines your experience. The way people react to you, you to them, where your instincts take you and what you make of what you find when you get there. If your definition of adventure is limited to jumping out of airplane in a life raft against a blue screen then maybe you should join the Coast Guard or a stunt crew. Looking for overblown andrenaline rushes leaves you a better candidate for base jumping and river rafting than the kinds of cultural adventures that Indy is mimicking.
In all honesty the thing I loved about Indy wasn’t all the action and adventure, that’s what made the movies exciting. But for me what made Indy really cool was he knew all about history. He could go anywhere in the world and he knew the language, writing, could pick out the cultural icons and recite their significance. Which are all very important skills for the true adventurer to posses.
Adventure is very rarely a series of glamorized angles of you with the wind in your hair and a super villain’s secret base exploding in the background. That’s fantasy. But it doesn’t mean adventure doesn’t exist. Adventure can very often have little or nothing to do with adrenaline and excitement. It can be settling into your seat in an airplane or train or walking past a certain point you never have before and knowing that your are going farther from home than you ever before. Always set the horizon past where you thought it ended yesterday and you’ll never be short of adventures.