It’s been a slow start for Days of Adventure 2023: I’ve been recovering from the traumatic combination of road and gravity on my knee cartilage.
My usual vectors for adventure are out: no hiking, no cycling, no running, no skating, no surfing, no climbing.
Or at least, I thought they were out until I read Belinda Kirk’s book Adventure Revolution.
Belinda was expedition manager on the BBC 2 series Beyond Boundaries, in which eleven men and women trekked 220 miles across the Nicaraguan jungle and desert, dodging bandits, wading through crocodile infested rivers and summitting a live volcano.
In short: one heck of an adventure.
What’s this got to do with me and my knee cartilage?
The eleven members of the Nicaragua expedition included two in wheelchairs, one deaf, one blind, one double foot amputee, two arm amputees, one with spina bifida and three single leg amputees.
I read this as a gentle reminder that we all, all the time, have to ‘start from where we are’.
It’s not much use me dreaming of all the things I used to do or mourning for all the adventures I’ve had to cancel over the past month.
Better to start from where I am today and accept that hiking across Dartmoor or cycling through the Lake District just isn’t going to work for me right now.
That doesn’t mean everything else is off the table as well. Far from it.
But I must start from where I am, not from where I used to be or from where I think I should be or from where I would one day love to be.
The first challenge for me today is not to swim with crocodiles, but to interrupt an alienating cycle of inactivity.
Here’s my current pattern of thinking:
Rest my knee ➡️ Limit walking and exercise ➡️ Stop going outdoors much ➡️ More work, more screentime ➡️ Low mood, poor sleep ➡️ Stop doing much of anything and head back indoors ↩️
It’s a slippery slide, especially when I’m clinging onto the hope that this won’t be forever, that the knee pain won’t last and things will return to normal soon.
I mean, they probably will — I spoke to a very reassuring physio on Wednesday — but still, no.
I don’t believe that the best first response to any problem is to suck it up and wait it out. That’s not me.
Not only does such a solution fail to reflect the reality of where I am, it also spits on the unbelievable good fortune of every minute of my existence.
Instead, I’ll start from where I am and honour the time I have now — not mortgage it against some contingent future.
So this week I’ve instituted a new rule: no screens until I’ve done at least three beautiful things for the good of my today self.
This list of ideas is still growing and welcomes new suggestions. A ✔️ indicates what I’ve done since Wednesday:
- Read a book ✔️✔️✔️
- See or phone a friend
- Go outside and watch the goats eat breakfast ✔️✔️✔️
- Play guitar
- Do press ups ✔️✔️
- Do yoga ✔️
- Take a cold shower ✔️✔️✔️
- Write morning pages
- Prepare dinner or bake bread
This is nothing remotely like trekking up a live volcano in Nicaragua without any feet — heck, it’s not even anything like hiking across Dartmoor on a sunny winter’s day.
But it is starting from where I am.