The Expedition of Our Age

unnamedNothing is guaranteed.  There is no plan or path that can ensure the kind of life you want.  There are only opportunities with varying degrees of risk.  And sometimes the least risky opportunities are also those least likely to result in fulfillment.  The great success stories are the result of daring expedition and pursuit of unique goals.

There was a time when a college education was something of an adventure.  It was exclusive, not easy to get, and signaled something special.  Leaving your home town for a university was a big deal, a great expedition.  This is no longer true.  Going to college is not difficult today.  It’s not elite or rare.  Most young people can easily travel and live away from their home towns and many have even before college.  Today, college isn’t much of an adventure.  In fact, it attracts some of the most risk averse individuals, and perhaps paradoxically the higher ranked the school often the more risk averse its students.

There is a small but growing number of young people who see this and they’ve got the itch.  They go to college only to realize it’s a warmed over version of all the years of safe, institutional schooling they’ve just completed.  No one will question their decision to go.  No one will call them crazy.  The risk of flunking out is as minuscule as the risk of standing out.  The sense of adventure is gone, replaced with a sense of perpetual adolescence and paternalistic planning.

Those with the itch for real adventure realize that no one is going to give it to them.  The prefabricated social life and conveyor-belt career track isn’t enough.  If they want to embark on a daring expedition, they’ll have to do it themselves.  The great secret is that it’s far easier than anyone imagines.  All the resources exist already within arms reach.  Anything in the world you want to learn or do, anyone you want to meet, any personal challenge you want to give yourself, any skill you want to devote yourself to: they’re all doable, without anyone’s permission.

The world is waiting.  It won’t be found on dorm room couches.  It won’t be found in cinder block classrooms.  It won’t be given to those who simply follow the rules and don’t upset the apple cart.  It will be discovered – it will be created – by those daring enough to seek adventure and live life on their own terms.

The geographical territory of the earth has been largely discovered.  But we’re only on the borderlands of human potential.  It lies before us vast, untamed, full of mystery and possibility.  It will be explored by those brave enough.  No special qualifications are needed beyond courage, self-honesty, a hunger for self-knowledge, and willingness to break the mold.

The great expedition of our age is the self-created journey; the self-directed life.