Spent this past weekend at the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, CO. Great stuff indeed, but there were times I had to smirk as I listened to the movies or heard the athletes talk about their experiences in white water, on rocks, crossing the ocean, like they had been to war, maybe I should be kinder, maybe they had been to war.
Thing is, and its an uncomfortable truth for a lot of people, there is no greater adventure than war. Its got all that we need for adventure in spades. Wikipedia defines adventure as: an activity that is perceived to involve risk, danger or exciting experiences. Want adventure? Sign up at your local recruiting office, and you’ll get plenty of adventure.
André Malraux, the French adventurer stated in 1933, “If a man is not ready to risk his life, where is his dignity?” Brothers and sisters in Arms, you’ve got dignity enough for all of us.
The real question though is what happens to us when the adventure is over? What happens when we’ve been pushed to the edge, we’ve felt time slow down, we’ve felt our senses heighten and now we’re done? What happens when we’ve been pushed to the edge and instead of coming back from the edge, it cuts us and it cuts us deep? Where do we go? Please leave your thoughts and comments, I want to know where you’ve gone and where you go. Because I know where I’ve gone and where I’m going now, and I’ll tell you something, a lot of the places I’ve gone I wouldn’t take my mother with me.
It’s a question that’s hard to answer and we certainly don’t have all the answers at Veterans Expeditions, but what I do know is that sitting on your couch is not the right answer. All we’re trying to get you to do, is come back out on your next adventure, to recognize that there’s plenty of adventure left in this life, that you can get back to the edge, and that the edge does not need to cut or to maim, but it can instead give you heightened senses, it can slow down the clock of life, you can replicate, perhaps not identically, but similarly, some of that edge, some of that rush from preparing for and enacting war.
It doesn’t matter to us if you’ve got all your limbs or none of them, all your mind of it, or just a fraction of it left hanging on to reality, because often enough, what I’ve learned is that my disability has less to do with the pain in my feet, the spasms in my back, or my inability to consistently sequence getting dressed in the morning, or scaring the crap out of my climbing partners as I need another hint to tie a figure eight knot in my rope that I’ve done a hundred times before, as much as it does with the separation of those that knew me from my time in war, or who at least know war and its preparations, even if it was not my war, my battle, or my time. Disabled or not, we want you out on the trail in the big wild country that we fought to defend.
That’s what we’re doing here at Veterans Expeditions, getting each other back out to a new adventure, a new experience above and beyond all we’ve already experienced to remind ourselves that the adventure doesn’t end just because we’ve taken the uniform off, that there is another brotherhood and sisterhood awaiting for us if we want to join its ranks…and the best part, we’ve already get a leg up on the adventurous crowd, we’ve already lived through the big one. Believe me, Mt. Everest has nothing on you!
And don’t worry, we won’t ask you to risk your life…at least not that much. Our insurance company would never let us!