"Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in an office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain." - Jack Kerouac
In a sanitized world of GPS and Google Maps, it is easy to believe that there is nowhere left to explore. Still, we want to believe that adventure awaits.
The truth: adventure is not waiting for you. You have to chase it. A life of adventure is about striving for something higher, a life beyond the ordinary. There are still so many mountains to climb.
We each have our own mountain. I was nowhere near an actual mountain when I found mine. I was on a beach in Morocco, where the desert meets the sea. In all honesty, I had run away to Morocco when I graduated university. I wish I could say that I was chasing adventure, but the truth is that I actually didn’t know what else to do.
I went there to work for a family of adventurers: an English surfer, a Swedish yogi and their kids. Their names were George and Linnea el Sohl and they lived the most incredible life. They lived and worked in the wilds of Costa Rica, Morocco and Sri Lanka. From them I learned the difference between living and thriving. I reevaluated my ideas of success. I had new dreams to chase.
I stopped looking for graduate jobs and tiny apartments in London. I started working as a travel writer. Two years and six continents later, I still feel the clarity of purpose that I found in Morocco. I owe my outlook to serendipity. And Linnea and George.
I asked Linnea what led them toward this lifestyle. She said that ‘life is too short not to have adventures. Why stagnate in a safe environment when you can live, love and learn?’ So they swapped their careers in London for ‘compulsory sunset family gatherings in the tropics, treasuring every day as a gift’.
They made the brave choice to raise their children in far-flung places. They haven’t looked back. Linnea says that on the road they have ‘more time for the kids not to be stuck in an everyday routine. The kids feel safety with loving relationships rather than materialistic needs. They feel at home within the family rather than within concrete walls.’
George and Linnea are part of a community of nomads, a tribe whose love of adventure sports leads them around the world, ultimately to a life of adventure. In Kerouac’s words, these are the ‘the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live.., the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.'
Meeting other members of this community - fellow globetrotters and wayfarers - is one of the best parts of this lifestyle. Through my work and travels, from the beaches of Rio to the streets of Budapest, I have met so many people who are absolutely mad to live. Like Eliza Mulholland. She studied as a ballet dancer in Copenhagen before she began working at the Byron Bay Dive Center. She said that the highlight of working with scuba diving is ‘meeting so many people from all over the world. It is really special to be part of their adventure, especially when it is their first exposure to being underwater or seeing whales breaching for the first time’.
This is a community that stretches from the sea to the snow. It is a lifestyle that bonds surfers and climbers, divers and skiers. I spoke with Genevieve Hehir about her work as a ski instructor in Whistler. She explains that “being a ski instructor is more than just a job, it's not about numbers or profits. It is about that clicking in your boot to the binding and sliding down the freshly manicured slopes. As a ski instructor, you live and breathe the mountain and every day that you work for her, she repays you more than money ever could.”
There is clearly something life-affirming about working immersed in nature and flourishing far from home. We may be nostalgic for a time when there were still gaps in the globe and blank spots on the map. In reality, however, satellites won’t supersede the human instinct to explore. Just as a Wi-Fi connection doesn’t necessarily keep us connected. Nor can social media replace a social life. In our time we can make the choice to live a life of adventure. So climb that goddamn mountain.