dreams of desert islands, the lure of great adventures...
you ever dreamt of surviving a shipwreck and making to a desert
island ? Having to improvise like Robinson Crusoe ?
is more and more coming to our attention, accidents on building
sites are no longer accepted as inevitable and commonplace as
they once were.
is a very good thing.
However there is a cost: Just as every drug has more or less
side effects, safety consciousness also has side effects: It
ignores a basic psychological, spiritual need in human beings.
speak about the need to touch the limits of our mortality, to
do something which is difficult and genuinely capable of killing
or injuring or ruining us and to survive the adventure.
One only needs to look at the great adventurers, the heroes...
and wonder what drove them, to realize this. .
current emphasis on safe roads and workplaces is long overdue
and an excellent thing. The proper place for adventures and
risks are not our roads and building sites, but .... where then
? Where is the place for those things ?
In trying to feel the trill of risk, parachuting and bungee
jumping (to pick random examples which come to mind) fill
the gap, but these things are little help in the long term.
They are little help not only because they are not genuinely
risky, but because they lack meaning, and deeper purpose. They are restricted
to the individual, the thrill of the moment.
This is because there is a second aspect to the need for adventure
and that is for it to be worthy and of value, for the greater
good of others. There has to be something that is worthy taking
a risk for and which earns the respect of those we care about
(and want to impress).
Why do I worry about this ? I would like to suggest that in the absence of both risk and
meaningful risk, a 'bubble-wrap society' is in unconscious danger
of seeking solutions in war. War has throughout history been
'sold' to the people as both a thing difficult and worthwhile.
Few leaders could inspire soldiers to die on their behalf purely
for money (or oil?), or an economic policy. There has to be
more to it. Somehow 'our' side must be 'right'. Even that much
abused character poor old 'god' gets dragged in to support 'our' side. Regardless that the 'enemy's' claims to have 'god' for themselves,
they don't have the truth like we do…etc... Of course we have the real
'GOD' and he's on our side because we are 'right'! etc... ad nauseum...
I worry because: What
better way to direct a population starved of risk and meaning
than to direct them to war ? I am not saying that this is done
deliberately, but desire will seek satisfaction and if this
desire is not recognized for what it is, there is no control
over the shape of that satisfaction. The need drives us subconsciously.
It is a case of events 'magnetically' being drawn such that
a need creates an outlet.
at myself: I find that I have a need to feel I have done something
worthwhile, 'earned' something worthwhile in my life.
In theory and in the comfort of my secure home and job, I
like the idea of surviving a great adventure, of being pushed
to my limit and by my wits, sheer luck and ?help from above? somehow
surviving, doing a noble things such as saving something or
someone worthwhile and return ing triumphantly. Certainly beats an office job... but as I said, usually just "in theory".
say that I like the idea "in theory", because when one is actually INSIDE
the adventure, knee deep in mud or facing injury or death any
minute, the romantic idea of 'adventure' is the last thing on
anyone's mind. I only want to be back in my safe, comfortable
house, writing about it on a computer. It is only in looking
back that the sense of 'adventure' reemerges. Only survivors can tell their tales...
sense of adventure, of doing something worthwhile in the process,
pervades nearly all great stories and myths. The hero is a hero
because s/he faces great odds and fights nobly. Not many stories
talk about a hero who runs at the first sight of trouble and
hides under the bed. Nor are many stories written about average
here we come to a dilemma:
Like all humans, I want to have my cake and eat it too. I would
like to survive great adventures, I want the glory but I don't
really, not seriously want the risk of injury, death, financial
ruin, social ruin or whatever the risks are...
is the tension: the lure of adventure and its opposite: the
reality when it really comes down to it: the fear, the very
real possibility of disaster, of going out with a whimper, being
only a cockroach stepped on by a giant.
I ponder this topic, it occurs to me that perhaps we have 'evolved' to what we are now from a time when life was an adventure just to survive physically.
When in order to simply survive against wild animals and to find
sufficient food was a real adeventure.
And like all adventurers we wantedto be safe in our houses, and not have to worry about all these wild animals.
And like all adventuerers we find that when we get to the safe place, it is not really what we imagined it to be... and so we move on again ..... and again.
I have the choice
of whether to take up the personal challenge to make something
of my life or to simple vegetate in front of the TV, internet,
and nurse my bruised ego.
The wild frontiers are still thee, but for most of us they are not OUT there but inside
In spired by my memory of an article I read in 1979 by the author of many detective stories: Dorthy L Sayers, called "On Desert Island" - I'd like to find that article again.
© 2003, 2005 heiko