HIGH PASSES YAKS AND BUZKASHI
life in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor
By definition, adventure should be bold and risky in nature, fraught with physical, financial or psychological risk. If it’s simple, you’re doing it wrong.
Call it masochistic, but we’re all for adding a pinch of torment back into adventure. This isn’t a case for heading out ill-equipped and under prepared, far from it. Instead this is a call to embrace the challenge, the uncertainty inherent with time in the wild and the fact it doesn’t always end in success.
It’s the struggle we learn from and it’s the struggle we’ll talk of for years to come. Adversity is the key to progress after all so here are six reasons why it’s always worth gritting your teeth and carrying on.
Proper adventure will strip you bare and push you beyond what you deemed comfortable. With nothing to hide behind but your own mental and physical capability, it’s in the deepest darkest depths of the struggle, that you’ll find what it is you’re really made of. It was Sir Edmund Hillary who said, “it’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” The mountain, jungle, ocean, whatever it might be, is bigger than you. You can’t beat it. Ultimately the battle is with yourself and ain’t there something beautiful in that!
Call it mindfulness or even a detox of sorts, but there’s a lot to be said for the head space we find on adventure. There’ll be moments of complete mental silence, space to let go of life’s inflated and insignificant worries. Whatever was keeping you up at night will matter no more and there’s a good chance you’ll return with a more holistic understanding of yourself and a shift in focus towards the things you really hold dear. There’s nothing like a little hardship to help you reassess life’s priorities.
Physical exercise is proven to develop the mind. In the same way your muscles cry out for fuel during hard exercise, your brain too will soak up glucose or other carbohydrates when the body is in motion. In this state, the brain is more responsive to information and it has even been shown to cause measurable changes in vision. So where would you rather work your brain? In the classroom, the gym or out there amongst it, experiencing something real? Make your adventures a little more strenuous and you’ll be on the road to a smarter version of yourself.
There’s something extremely liberating about filling a backpack and heading out into the unknown. Complete a self supported journey and life’s possibilities are blown wide open. Boundaries are pushed and your ideas of realistic shattered. Any sort of self-supported mission is unlikely to come without its own struggle, but the ability to pick yourself up when the weather turns and crack a smile at the end of a rough day is definitely one worth grasping. Enduring the struggle means you’re embracing a challenge and even if you fail, you’ll probably soon learn it wasn’t the big deal you once thought it was. Your self-confidence will soar and it’ll overflow into everything you do.
Adventure rarely conforms to the plan. Exposed in the wild, you’re at the mercy of your environment. The struggle can show its face at any time without warning and it’s down to how you cope with it that’ll define the experience so you’ll soon learn to roll with the punches. You’ll be forced to think on your feet and nailing snap decision making will soon be second nature.
There’s a reason you entered the struggle in the first place and remembering that will help you push through. Eventually the weather, the pain in your legs, the fear, it’ll subside and your moment of glory will be all the more dramatic for it. Worst case scenario, you’ll return with a story, stronger both physically and mentally. In the long run, it’s always worth it. Even if it takes six months to realise.