Since I write this series of posts called “The Not-So-Newlyweds Adventures,” one might assume I lead an adventurous life. While I am committed to finding/making adventure in the most ordinary of circumstances, lately Luke and I have felt like we are in a rut.
A boredom rut.
We are young and don’t have kids, yet we find ourselves crashing in front of the TV at the end of a day, wishing we had more interesting things going on in our lives.
For a while, we were unfairly blaming Oklahoma for this. Our conversations centered mostly on the weather, lamenting that outside activities can be challenging. In the winter, no one wants to be outside because it’s too cold, and there aren’t any mountains to make it worth our while. In the summer, it’s too hot to walk outside without needing a shower, which tends to usher us quickly back into the nearest air-conditioned haven. And when the temperature is perfect, the wind is what gets you. It will simultaneously destroy your hair and zap your enthusiasm for the outdoors.
Logically, our thought was that we should escape to somewhere inherently more interesting and less bent toward flighty weather patterns. In an effort to act on that goal, we recently took a trip to Boulder, Colorado. We got a little more “adventure” than we asked for, but I think we learned a bit about how to live our normal days.
If you happen to be a weather aficionado, you may have noticed a snowstorm that hit the Denver area the first weekend of February involving record snowfall that Friday. Undaunted by reports of “blizzard-like” conditions in Western Kansas, we took off on Thursday afternoon. We probably should have been, well, daunted by the idea of driving through it, but we had a hotel reservation that couldn’t be cancelled that close to check-in. So, blizzard or not, we packed up the Honda and said a few prayers. The snow started when we got to the Colorado border on I-70 headed west from Kansas. That last leg of the trip took much longer than it should have because of icy, snow-packed roads and limited visibility, but we arrived in Boulder safely and just before midnight. As we fell into bed that night, dreams of majestic mountains greeting us the next morning danced in our heads.
Instead, what we woke up to on Friday looked much like what we went to sleep to on Thursday:
This picture was taken across the street from the University of Colorado campus, and what you can’t see in the background are the mountains referred to as “The Flatirons,” which contain great hiking and climbing opportunities.
As we drove around Boulder that day, we noticed something strange: nothing was different from home. Because we couldn’t actually see the mountains, and the inclement weather kept us from the hiking/climbing/snowshoeing adventures we could have had, we were forced, like we are in any situation, to create our own fun. We did to some extent, but I’ll be honest: we spent a good portion of the trip being pretty bummed that the adventure we sought had not created itself and knocked on our hotel room door.
We were able to find some interesting things in Boulder, like this bench that showed just how much snow had fallen.
And because the roads get cleared remarkably quickly in a mountain town, we got to do some additional road tripping in the area.
This is a pair of friendly elk on Main Street in Estes Park.
This is us enjoying the perfect-consistency snow on Pearl Street.
The weather did clear up, giving us the desired view of God’s beautiful creation, but more than enjoying the things we saw, we learned a valuable lesson. What we found there was that location does not make adventures. We do.
Since we’ve been home, we have thought about how we can stop blaming our location for our lack of excitement and start creating adventure in our everyday lives. Maybe this is all very logical, and others are doing these things all the time. My suspicion, though, is that we are not alone, so maybe this will spark some ideas for others as well.
Turn off the TV a couple nights a week. We don’t even like TV that much, but sometimes we are so tired from the day that it seems like the best option. In the end, though, sitting down to a couple of hours of meaningless stories just leaves us feeling more bored and more frustrated because we aren’t doing the real things we would like to be doing during that time.
Invest in hobbies. We both have a million things we would like to do. Luke’s list revolves around technology and electronic things, and mine involves writing and photography. We both love to read, and we both have goals of being healthy through exercise. It’s far too easy to run out of time for all these activities by not planning them into the day. Our new goal is to direct time and energy to these things by avoiding “hobbies” that just turn out to be time wasters.
Budget for adventure. “Vacation” is an envelope in our budget system, but we want to go one better by redirecting any “extra” into a fund to pay for smaller-scale trips. For example, we got an awesome gift for Christmas from Luke’s parents…a gift card for the Amtrak train! I have literally always wanted to ride it. I have so many questions: why have I never seen it? How fast does it really go? These questions must be answered, but they don’t have to be answered just going from OKC to Fort Worth. For the same price, we can go from Denver to Grand Junction, CO. It’s not that southern Oklahoma wouldn’t hold as much interest, but we have been there before. We haven’t been to western Colorado. Seeing something new and different will help keep us fresh and keep those boredom ruts from getting too deep.
Saying yes. It’s easy to start saying no to things because of tiredness and busyness and work and, and, and…but I think that within the “yes” lies the antidote to boredom. Something that has been improving our lives lately has been saying yes to invitations and opportunities like going to dinner with friends, taking classes at our church, and taking advantage of some of the local entertainment we have ignored for so long. Who knew how great the local theater was? We didn’t…until we actually said, “Let’s just go try it.” Such simple words, yet they can be so difficult to say sometimes.
There is a poster at my workout facility that says, “You don’t stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing.” As I add months and years to my life, I don’t want to “get old” in this sense, and that’s why adventure is such an important theme in my life. Even as we get older and add responsibilities, we can still carve out space for adventure, adding fulfillment to our everyday experience.