Last year I took my family, including my two young sons, to Borneo for a holiday. It wasn’t luxurious and we did some pretty rough traveling at times. Some of the accommodation we stayed in would barely rate a ½ star and that’s being generous. We got rained on regularly, ate some pretty average food (especially in the local villages we visited) and had a ‘run in’ with leeches during one soggy jungle trek. We even returned one afternoon to our jungle ‘hut’ to find a couple of macaque monkeys who had briefly taken up residence.
So what’s the pay-off for doing a trip like this? In a nutshell it was the priceless experiences. We saw orang-utans and proboscis monkeys in the wild, elephants bathing in the river and giant sea turtles swimming near our boat. We played soccer and volleyball with local villagers and then stayed overnight in their homes. We trekked through pristine jungles and visited Snake Island where thousands of sea snakes live.
Some of my friends said to me ‘you guys are really adventurous’ and ‘we could never do that type of trip’. I always wonder ‘why not?’ Sure it wasn’t a hotel in Bali or an apartment in Surfers Paradise but lying around a pool or going shopping, while nice, won’t give you these types of wonderful experiences.
I also don’t think that ‘adventurous’ is the best way to describe it. Curious is better, I think. Maybe it’s why I trekked to Everest Base Camp (on a whim in 1989) or went water skiing last weekend for the first time. It’s definitely the reason I’ve started several businesses (not all successfully), including one as recent as last year.
What I do know is that I don’t enjoy the status quo year in and year out. I think what is important is to find out what ELSE is out there. What else can be learned. What else can be experienced. What else can be contributed. Many people, I suspect, feel the same way.
But thinking about it is quite different from doing something about it. And that requires dealing with the unknown, and the fear associated with it, which can shut down our innate curiosity and lead to inertia and a perpetuation of the status quo. And that’s a big problem, in my view.
Being endlessly curious and importantly (relatively) fearless is the way to overcome apathy and inertia. It can get you out of a rut, open up life changing experiences and take you on a journey of self-discovery. Whether it takes you to Borneo or not doesn’t matter. Getting off the treadmill of routine, complacency and fear is what really counts…