See Challenges as an Opportunity for Adventure

18 Jul
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Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you just didn’t want to be in? Maybe it was not quite your favorite way to spend an afternoon, or even a weekend for that matter. Perhaps it was your spouse’s 25 year high school reunion, and you didn’t know a single soul there. Maybe you agreed to help someone move on a blistering hot summer afternoon.

We find ourselves in numerous situations where we feel like we’d rather be somewhere else – anywhere else. What I’ve discovered is that, no matter what we’re going through, there is always a way to see challenges as an opportunity for adventure.

To get the ball rolling, I ask myself, “How can I go beyond just coping or tolerating this and find a way to enjoy it?”

I am inspired by children who, when given an old box…make a fort, when told to go to bed early…turn their covers into a tent, and when given those yucky vegetables…turn the walls into a glorious canvas for their latest abstract art project.

I had an opportunity to turn my challenges into an adventure when my family and I went camping near the Kankakee river this summer.

Let me set the stage for you…

  • Upon making reservations, we learned that the main campground had been closed down because of flooding. That should’ve been a red flag right there. We went with the alternate campground. Instead of having access to a shower and flushing toilets…well, we didn’t.
  • As we’re driving there, we noticed rain in the area and actually drove through a vicious downpour.
  • As we finished up our dinner that night, it began to storm…and didn’t stop until the next morning.
  • The waterlogged ground oozed and squished beneath my saturated sandals.
  • Everything was muddy.
  • There really wasn’t much to do. The trails were closed off because of the flood. Everything was wet.
  • Mosquitos were everywhere.
  • Natural debris driven down by the heavy rains littered the asphalt bike trails.
  • As I reached to clear a large branch off the trail, a daddy long-legs crawled out just where I was about to put my hand.
  • We had outhouses for restrooms.
  • Daddy-long-leg spiders guarded the door to the outhouse.
  • Flies infested the men’s side of the outhouse.
  • It was hard to find a quiet moment to settle down and read.

Oh yeah, now I remember why I don’t like camping.

So how did I go beyond just coping with the situation and find a way to enjoy it?

I used my bike, my camera and my car.

One of my favorite things to do is go bike riding. I enjoy the exercise as well as the solitude. I particularly like being alone in nature, which was in no short supply. While most of the trails were submerged in floodwater, enough trail remained for me to go exploring. My tires rolled along the path, pinching out little sticks like popcorn over an open campfire.

Photographing wildlife is another activity I enjoy. Bizarre creatures, like the caterpillar that made its home on our picnic table, fascinate me. Saturated logs, which sizzled and oozed over the fire, also made for quite engaging subjects. Smoke rising from our campfire set the stage for shots of light rays bursting through the trees as well.

Our caterpillar friend.

Combining photography with my bike ride was an especially fun treat. I fixed an iPod mount to my handle bars and took video as I sped along the trail. I also stopped periodically to capture the breathtaking scenery.

The Bike Trail

Lastly, when I couldn’t take the boredom of sitting around the camp site, I willingly volunteered to drive into town. My daughter and I went to Walmart. She played on computers while I shopped for tents. The associate who helped me was very friendly. She even told me about one of the locals who was selling RVs and gave me the exact intersection where to find them. I made 2 trips to town that day. My second trip was to buy hamburgers for the evening meal.

By using a bike, a camera and a car I was able to find the fun and beauty in an otherwise tough situation.

I may not be exactly where I want to be, or in the situation I want to be in, but I am here, and I am creative. I can think of ways to make things fun. I can remember Viktor Frankl from the Nazi concentration camps. He lifted everyone’s spirits in a dismal situation. I can think of the Divine who created order out of chaos, glory out of confusion and form out of a void.

You and I have that same creative ability within us. We can turn the ordinary, the mundane and the trivial into the exciting, the enchanting and the mesmerizing. We can do this when we see challenges as an opportunity for adventure.

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