I started collecting adventures and life discoveries I made without leaving home to try to show how available the best parts of life can be, or how accessible greatness is.
My big example is swimming across the Hudson–a rite of passage I created for myself at no cost in cash nor much in time. I contrast it with, say, parachuting from an airplane, in which you follow what others curate and choreograph for you. Swimming across the Hudson, nobody I knew had done it before. Anybody who can swim can do it. Nobody guided me, though I went with a friend. I swam every stroke and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t make it.
Most of all, everyone who lives near a river has the opportunity to do something similar at no cost.
Accessibility is important to me. I want to discover from life what nearly everyone else can.
Sailing: until I started sailing, I considered it expensive and not meaningful. Now I consider a day trip around New York harbor like traveling to a remote spot on the world. Whatever stress I have before embarking disappears once I get on the boat.
I spend dramatically less on sailing than I would have for an equivalent amount of life experience flying, which means more discovery about my world and relaxation.
Abs: I grew up without well-defined abs. I was pudgy when young and would wear a shirt to the beach or a swimming pool to cover myself.
Cutting fiber-removed foods from my diet led to definition on my abs. I’ve worked hard to make sure that nearly anyone could make food like mine.
I knew I’d feel good when I definition on my abs, I was pleasantly surprised to find how great the magnitude of emotional reward coming from defined abs is. Plus, nearly anyone can get defined abs. Somehow the nation chooses to be nearly three-quarters overweight and obese. I think they’re missing out on value they’d love more than what they’re choosing that contributes to the fat.
I used to think appreciating one’s abs meant vanity. Now I don’t think so. I think of Michelangelo’s David. Do you think after he finished it that he looked at his creation to appreciate it? If he can, I can.
Farmers markets: I love shopping at farmers markets. I shop at them more than at supermarkets, bodegas, or corner delis. Before I started shopping at them, I would attend them to feel good about playing an active role in a community I thought I valued, but I never bought the vegetables, fruit, etc. I bought the processed stuff like bread and cheese.
Now I look forward to what different farms have as the seasons change and different fruit ripens at different times.
Not everyone has a farmers market near them, but everyone can enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables more than they do.
Creating and displaying art: I love art and self-expression through artistic media, but took no meaningful classes in them. Then starting creating my own art changed my appreciation of art and artists. Then taking Meisner Technique, a form of method acting, grew that appreciation.
I can’t begin to describe what I’ve learned about myself, about people, about expression, about learning, and so on through practicing art.
Anybody can create art and show it. It’s not easy to get big, but it’s remarkably accessible. You can just sketch.
Teaching: I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve described teaching as an application of leadership. Of course, I would exclude many academic, analytical styles of teaching.
Anyone can teach, which means anyone can reach results beyond just telling people what to do.
I’ve often said, “I knew before I started that I’d like teaching. I didn’t know I’d love it, but I do, far more than I expected.”
Writing: Writing accelerates introspection, reflection, and other forms of self-directed personal growth and synthesizing what one learned.
Writing costs nearly nothing. It’s the quintessential growth activity available to anyone.
Dancing. My fear of going out on the dance floor crippled my going out. Then, late, in my 30s, I started going dancing with friends, even finding myself the first on the floor sometimes
Dancing can be purely enjoyable. Intentionally or not, my father instilled in me a sense of accounting around fun and work. I grew up thinking that work made it appropriate to have fun and that you shouldn’t have fun unless you earned it.
Enjoying dancing didn’t require work. It led me to decouple the twisted accounting I grew up following from just enjoying myself.
Marathons. You can register for a the life activity and achievement of training for and running a marathon. You can also just run a marathon distance when you feel like it.
I’m a fan of learning about and training for a big race, but nothing competes with actually running one, with over a million people cheering you.
Rowing a marathon. Easier than running a marathon, with less dependence on weather, no pounding, no needing space, and other properties making it more accessible.
When I rowed my marathon a couple months ago, I took around 4 hours. The average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. Americans can row a marathon per day and still watch plenty of TV daily.
Biking from Philadelphia to Bar Harbor, Maine, and back: the summer between high school and college, during which I turned 17, a friend and I rode our bikes from home to Maine and back—about 1,500 miles over a month. We put our tents, food, clothes, and equipment in our paniers, doing and carrying everything ourselves.
I wonder if parents today might lose their children for allowing what some might perceive as risky but was less risky than overprotecting kids.
I think the experience has made me see many potential experiences as more accessible and less risky than others do.
Flying, polluting, independence, and life experiences
Nearly everyone I talk to about not flying attributes to it the ability to create value in life otherwise inaccessible. I probably felt that way some time. By flying, I mean any activity that hands you results without work on your part and hurts others.
Now I feel any emotion or meaning is achievable without flying. I also take responsibility for the pollution I pay for when I take space on a plane. Flying costs a lot, hurts people, and holds you back from more. I’m not saying never fly or that flying registers zero on the benefits side of the ledger.
I’ve found more adventure, cuisine, and other values without flying than I ever would have expected. People who think they can’t are describing their limited imaginations more than their abilities to create the life results they want.
Creating life results is easier, cheaper, and more accessible than anyone would think if they thought they needed outside tools.
Folks, believing you need to fly only hampers your life. You can create any emotion you want on your own.
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