Adventure and the bond within my family

What if we weren’t adventurous by nature? Most likely, we wouldn’t have made many sufficient discoveries, evolved and developed as a population, nor expanded. What if Christopher Columbus didn’t head on a journey to find a western sea route to China, India, and Asia? It would have been significantly longer before this great country was discovered. We would we be vastly underdeveloped. Our society has progressed as a result of curiosity and the thirst for adventure.

Adventure was the driving force behind my childhood. I would always create these games my sister and I would play. One of the games my sister and I played was this game called ‘Around the World.’ There was this 3 inch rug step which lined the wall around our basement. Our mission was to get around the basement without touching the ground. We would climb over tv sets and run across tables; walk over pillows we had set up and shimmy over the tops of couches. We had three lives – every time we touched the ground, we lost one life. We worked together to keep each other ‘alive,’ and to get to the finish line. We played games like this day after, day, month after month throughout our childhood. You could say that adventure is very important to be as it was the driving force of me and my sister’s close relationship growing up.image

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In Search of America

John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”,  is his 1960 road trip with his poodle Charley, to write about America and how Americans act today. Steinbeck’s trip roughly encompasses the outer border of the United States starting in New York, going towards the pacific northwest, and the Salinas Valley through the deep south and back to New York.  Thomas Steinbeck, John’s son says that the real reason for the trip was because his father knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one last time. Steinbeck’s journey to see american’s as they really are ended only in disappointment. He wrote: 

“American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash–all of them–surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered in rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use.”   

However despite his overall disappointment with America we also a get a portrait of modern America, both regionally and in the country as a whole.  He also says that:

“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”  

Steinbeck’s book has come to idealize the classical American road trip, almost all Americans take some form of road trip at some point in their life’s, though very few have adventures as long as Steinbeck and his dogs.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On The Road” is an adventure of sorts but not one that is all to ordinary.  Between 1947 and 1950, key members of the beatnik generation met up in various parts of the country and essentially just traveled back and forth, cris-crossing the country, picking up a new guy here, working a job there or getting married several times.  The book retains popularity today and is ranked as the 55th on the list of best novels of the 20th century, despite the fact it is written fairly sloppily in the “spontaneous prose” format.  Shortly after the Beatnik generation faded out but before the hippie and anti-war movement came into play was the generation came Ken Kesey, infamous for his book “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”.  Kesey once proclaimed at an interview in 1999 “I was to young to be a beatnik and to old to be a hippie.”  Kesey’s book takes place in a psychiatric ward in Oregon, which is under the thumb of Nurse ratchet who is ranked 5 on the all times villain list by the American Film Institute.  The main character of the book has little background information but from what is given we can assume that he lived a life similar to the one Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise lived in “On the Road”.  The adventure that both men face,  either on the road, or in a mental asylum,  just shows that someone who goes against the grain is bound to have an adventure.

Music and adventure

Music and adventure, adventure and music, the two have always been tied together, inseparably intertwined. The greatest music of any time has come from stealing the ideas of another culture via travel. Consider Dick Dales “misirlou”. During a performance, Dale was bet by a young fan that he could not play a song on only one string of his guitar. Dale’s father and uncles were Lebanese-American musicians, and Dale remembered seeing his uncle play “Misirlou” on one string of the oud. He vastly increased the song’s tempo to make it into surf. It was Dale’s  version that introduced “Misirlou” to a wider audience in the United States.

Recently while fumbling around the internet, I came across a blog proclaiming to have the “10 best travel songs of all time”, although most of the songs were so old I didn’t even know the artist (and I like to think I have a pretty eclectic musical taste) but one song really stood out to me. That song was Simon and Garfunkel’s “homeward bound”. The song features some slow chords, melodic rhythms and a mellow voicing. All of this with the songs blissful lyrics which cry of a desire to be done traveling make it one of the best adventure, or wish to end one, songs of all time.

“Everyday’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see
Reminds me that I long to be
Homeward bound”

Adventure

Helen Keller stated that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Typically we associate adventure with something involving risk which can result in positive energy such as excitement and adrenaline, or negative energy such as fear and panic. The first real recorded adventure can be traced back to Homer’s which has had profound effects on all facets of pop culture. Many video games follow the same basic plot line; hero returns from war, faces perilous travels and task, fights in his own house/fatherland so he can have his home back. A 2000 movie, “o brother where art thou” starring George Clooney as Ulysses McGill is a loose interpretation of the original epic but set in 1937 rural Mississippi. Tying everything in English together, parallel to the first story line is the second story line of two governors running races against each other, very similar to all the kings men.

Adventure Etymology

From adventurus, future participle of advenire “to come to, reach, arrive at,” from ad- “to” (see ad-) + venire “to come”. Meaning developed through “risk/danger” (a trial of one’s chances), c.1300, and “perilous undertaking” (late 14c.) and thence to “a novel or exciting incident” (1560s). Earlier it also meant “a wonder, a miracle; accounts of marvelous things” (13c.).
Adventure has been used throughout time seemingly starting with Latin culture combining “ad” meaning to and “Venire” mean to arrive. Its been changed throughout history referring to something akin to luck that happens to anything that involves inherent risk.