I’ve been on the road a lot lately. My job as an archaeologist has been picking up. So much so that I think I’ve only been home for about three weeks out of the last three months. I’ve gotten to see a lot of new places that I’ve never seen before, which is always an exciting thing for me. I believe that visiting new places and trying new things is a critical part of being an adventurer. However, I’d also say travel for my job is quite different when compared to some of my other travels.
I’m staying well off the beaten path when I travel for work. Of course, I’m traveling by road en route to cities and spending my nights in hotels. Hardly anything special or out of the ordinary about that. The difference though is what I’m doing during the day when I’m working. While on the job, I’m venturing out to places that no typical tourist with likely ever see. Perhaps even many of the locals have never seen before as well. That is because I’m venturing into very remote areas, areas that likely haven’t seen humans for a very long time.
I can recall some of my recent fieldwork projects where I was about as remote as I’ve ever been. During a project in Mississippi, I would commute by boat each morning to an island out in the Gulf of Mexico. It was beautiful seeing the sunrise over the water, and occasionally I’d see wild dolphins jump out as well. There were no passenger ferries to this island, and hardly any private vessels would go to it. So my crew and I had the whole island to ourselves!
Our boat pilot who brought us there would just anchor offshore and wait for us as we did our work. As it took nearly an hour to get us there, which would make it an unnecessary use of fuel to go back and forth to the mainland. It reminded me of the role-playing video games that I used to play as a kid. Where you would park your vessel in a certain location and go out and explore the area and fight monsters to level up. Of course, we weren’t fighting monsters on this island, but based on the size of the mosquitoes there, they might as well have been monsters!
There were so many mosquitoes on this island. Though I was not surprised considering how remote we were. Along with the mosquitoes, we were also close to the beach, which had very little tree coverage. Leaving us completely exposed to the hot sun beaming down overhead. This made working in this area very challenging. Physical discomforts were commonplace, with no means to escape from them. There were no nearby buildings with air conditioning, or running water, or a flushable toilet. Modern amenities simply had no place where we were. Regardless of these challenges and discomforts, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Because I was having an absolute blast!
The thought of being on this island, well away from the civilized world. And getting to see this place that few people will ever see, was just so exciting to me! I also liked how I was being pulled out of my comfort zone. As I, as well as many of my podcast guests, have mentioned before in previous episodes that growth doesn’t happen when you’re in your comfort zone. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is how you move towards improving yourself. And to say that I was uncomfortable in this wild environment, where I was getting mauled by mosquitos and being beaten down by the hot sun, would be an understatement!
I had another strange feeling while I was there. I felt as though this island was exactly where I was supposed to be. As if something primal deep within my soul was pushing its way to the surface. I think we all have those same primal tendencies to a degree, or as the title of this post suggests, our wild selves. I can recall how I’ve felt during times when I would see a globe, or a world map on a wall, or photos of places in magazines or online. My curiosity would certainly get the better of me, and I would have a burning desire to see what’s out there.
I also remembered how adventurous I was when I was a kid. I would climb trees and would always want to go up to just one more branch. Or I’d walk to an intersect down my road and would want to go to the next one. I also used to build forts, and certain areas on the property of my childhood home became imaginary places and kingdoms. Of course, I wasn’t alone when it came to having an adventurous spirit. My siblings and my cousins would take part in the fun as well! Especially when we would have a gathering at our grandparents’ house. As they had very spacious property!
But I noticed that as I got older, things began to change. Not just with myself, but with so many others as well. The castles and forts that we used to build were replaced with cubicles and computer screens. And the imaginary kingdoms that we used to quest to were now mandatory meetings in conference rooms. We were expected to “grow up”, and this adventurous spirit that we once had was cast aside and suppressed, much to our dismay.
So many times I’ve witnessed people doing things that leave them unfulfilled. They work a job that they don’t like, but won’t pursue something else. Or they want to travel abroad, but won’t buy the plane ticket. They long to bring their adventurous spirit forth, but won’t often out of fear. They fear the unknown, or they fear failure, or they might fear how they’ll be perceived by others.
Admittedly I faced these fears as well. I remember having ambitious ideas of things that I wanted to do in my life. Things that would allow me to live an adventurous life that I wanted. But out of fear, I would concoct reasons in my head as to why I shouldn’t do them. But these reasons were nothing more than excuses. And I eventually recognized this and sought to crush these excuses and let my wild self go down the path that I felt was right for me to take.
This lead me to England to pursue my Master’s degree in Field Archaeology. Which ultimately lead me to this remote island in the Gulf of Mexico that I just told you about. I chose to reconnect with my wild side and that adventurous spirit that I believe that we all have. Though unfortunately for many, it may be suppressed.
So I ask you, what are you doing with your adventurous spirit? Are you bringing your wild self forth, or is it being suppressed? If it is, in fact, being suppressed, either out of fear or something else. My practical tip for the day is to write these down. When you write your fears down, you bring them out of your head and they lose their power. Then you can seek to crush them!
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And until next time; be safe, happy travels, and always move forward!