Adventure: Nurture vs. Nature

When I was a kid I used to hear people describe themselves as outgoing. In our day and age that is often associated with a person’s willingness to speak up and talk to another. In my young mind, I always pictured a differently. I thought outgoing meant that you were willing to try anything and go on an adventure. Both of those definitions can definitely be used. But you do not need to be both of those to be outgoing.

I was a very shy child. I was quiet. I did not ever strike up a conversation. But I was willing to try new things. And I had an imagination that made every dirt hill Mount Everest and every gutter full of water the Nile river. I was adventurous. Why such a contrast and what made me this way. I am still this way in my life. I am much more willing to go explore a new river than I am to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the train. Is this nature or nurture?

Growing up I would take every part of our house and yard and make it my great adventure. I remember my 12th birthday I got my first climbing harness and figure 8. I found a rope out of the garage and tried rappelling off the garage and onto the driveway, pretending I was coming down from climbing the Grand Teton. I made a rookie mistake and smashed my fingers between the rope and the edge and let go of the rope and promptly hit the ground 12 feet below. I quickly stood up to make sure no one saw me and then tried it again.

I used to take hammers out of my dad’s toolbox and use them as ice axes on the hardened pile of plowed snow in a nearby parking lot. Every swing was training for my future attempt on Mt. Everest. I imagined being like Alex Lowe and tackling huge alpine ascents of far away towers that I read about in Rock and Ice.

This grew and evolved into how I structure my life and my free time now. From building blanket forts in my room pretending they were my Himalayan hotel tent at base camp, to sleeping in the ski area parking lot in a little shack we built during the summer. To now doing ski traverses of ranges and exploring new rivers to paddle. From a very young age, it took all my focus and all my energy just to keep thinking up adventures. Was I born with this great blessing of an adventurous spirit or is it considered a curse that my parents encouraged me to explore and to try new things? Could my life be different or am I destined to always be looking for an adventure? Is it nature or nurture?

I like to think that it is nature. That it is so deeply ingrained in me that I will never change. No matter what happens in life, no matter what job I have or where I live, I will always be looking for an adventure. On the other hand, I want it to be nurtured so that I can have control over creating my next adventure partner. So that I can raise my children to have the drive for adventure and always looking over the next horizon line. In reality, I think it is both. Those that love to explore and push towards an unknown outcome have a spark born within them and are encouraged and formed by those loved ones around them. Either way, I am grateful that it takes me so many places and gives me so much. All my training laps up mount dirty snow pile have really paid off.


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