We tend to keep a clipping pace during the summer months. Whether it’s road trips, camping expeditions, or adventures to nearby parks and recreation areas, there is always something on our radar. Why? It’s how we fully take in this one wild and precious life of ours.

Summer is good, crazy, awesome busy

So far this summer, we’ve camped a couple of times, visited off-the-beaten-path hot springs, hiked to waterfalls, rafted down a river, visited a new provincial park, and slid down ice-cold natural rock waterslides. We also road tripped the Oregon Coast, which was excellent, though more driving than we expected. We still plan to hike to Christie Falls and a ride down the soon-to-be-minted Okanagan Rail Trail.

All this is on top of working during the week so us adults can meet our professional deadlines.

Our neighbours give us looks of exhaustion when our car disappears for yet another weekend away. And truth be told, sometimes I feel exhausted too. We’ve gotten to the point, now halfway through summer holidays, where we have no clue what we’ll eat for supper every day, and the fridge is decidedly bare and empty.

Who has time for groceries when they’re out playing in the sun? We don’t. So, we sent the kids to daycare and camps this week with jam bagels and fridge scraps, nary a fruit or vegetable in sight.

Why? If we’re tired, why do we do it? Why do we keep this pace? Why bother?

I thought about this the other weekend while we hiked with friends from our campsite at Conkle Lake Provincial Park to a nearby waterfall.

As my 7-year-old waltzed down the wooded trail singing with abandon in nothing but her underwear and a costume cat tail (I kid you not), it struck me…

Adventure is our way of taking in this one wild and precious life of ours with eyes wide open. 

One wild and precious life | Eyes wide open

I mean, when else does THAT happen in my life? My kid walking around the forest in a feline costume en route to a gorgeous waterfall, that is. When else do I hear my feet crunch just so through twigs and pinecones as we wander down paths unknown? When else do I pause to really take in the sharp sweetness of a forest-foraged huckleberry? When else is my curiosity (and that of my children) piqued around every twist and turn?

One of our kids hiking just the way she likes it.

There is a certain intentionality in exploring. As we enter the moment fully, we notice things we wouldn’t otherwise. The burst of colour as a butterfly flutters past; the vibrant yellow of lilies on lily pads in calm, cool mountain lakes; the moment of awe when you see the waterfall crashing hundreds of feet down volcanic rock to a crystal clear pool below.

As we make space for adventure in our lives, we widen our experience of life itself. From the big, vast vistas to the tiniest of creatures, adventure causes us to take this one, wild and precious life with wide, open eyes.

In a strange way, adventure is rest

It takes a certain hectic frenzy to ready ourselves for an adventure. We pack our Honda Fit to the brim with luggage and camping gear; we cross of grocery lists and pack our cooler as full as we can. And that’s not even getting to the swimming suits and towels and clothes and paraphernalia a family of five needs.

But when we’re off, we’re off.

Adventuring is a bit like Sabbath for me. It causes me to stop and remember that right here in the middle of it all we can take the time to pause and enjoy each other and the world more fully. Once we’re out the door, we stop thinking about the dishwasher we forgot to empty before leaving, or the pile of clean laundry that needs to be folded, or the perpetual to-do-list of home improvements weighing on our minds.

As paradoxical as it sounds, when we adventure, we end up creating space for much-needed rest.

The great adventure – seizing each moment

The ins and outs of every day, normal life, are good and necessary and we will head into September like the best of them more than ready for a new school year and a calmer rhythm. We’ll welcome the routine of the school bell and consistent bedtimes and swimming lessons and a Monday to Friday schedule.

But this season of exploration is good too.

It occurs to me that as we choose adventure, we have to say no to other things. You have to make the space to go, actually booking time off the calendar and not letting the stress of the “what ifs” win.

To go, you first have to let go.

The journey itself, the exploring, the adventure, is meditative in a way. We focus on what is immediately before us – the open road, the hiking trail, the blooming flower, the deer, the river, the waterfall, the gorge, the beach, the mountain. Moment by moment, we take it in.

Rush adventure? No way! Instead, we pause to drink it in. Drop by drop, we embrace the joy, the richness, the beauty of each moment.

So. Even though summer is busy, it also gives moments to see life as we’ve not seen it before, to consider the world and our lives from a different vantage point.

The Oregon Coast as seen from the top of Devil’s Punchbowl.