“If you could give one single piece of life advice, what would it be?” This is a question I have been asking people from around the world for about ten months. I’ve gotten some real golden nuggets of wisdom and some good laughs out of it. I suppose the first bit of advice I would like to share is something that Dr. Bianca Leggett, a lovely British Studies professor at the college I worked at in the UK, told me while we were sitting in a pub in London. She said, “Adventures happen, but not punctually.”
The imaginary lightbulb above my head illuminated immediately. She was right. I don’t know about you, but whenever I set out to have a good time or really plot out this grand adventure in my head, more often than not something goes awry. However, some of the most memorable adventures have happened when I haven’t expected them, or when it feels like an inappropriate time to enjoy oneself.
My trip to Spain was a prime example of this. First of all, I signed up for it on a whim when my coworker Joanne said, “Okay, someone dropped out of the Spain trip. Do you want to go or not? I need to know within the next thirty minutes.” My eyes widened as I sat in my office chair and gave it a whopping ten seconds of thought and told her to count me in. I should also mention that my boyfriend, my secret boyfriend at the time, was going to be traveling independently in Spain and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity of being away with him for a long weekend.
Fast forward about two weeks and I am on a plane to Barcelona. I had just returned to the UK from an emergency trip back to the states for my uncle’s funeral, literally two days before. The jet lag was real. The grief was real. The excitement was real. The bronchitis that set in the first night I was there was VERY real due to lack of sleep and too much time on planes in less than a week’s time.
And yet there I was in a new country trying to absorb every the culture and environment around me, attempting to overcome raw emotions and let them settle in at the same time and soaking up every moment I could with my partner and two close friends.
The photo above was taken at Montserrat about an hour outside of Barcelona. The view was breathtaking, as was the elevation with stopped up lungs. Despite the timing of everything, it was a fantastic trip.
My not-so-punctual adventures usually have a tendency of coming about when I’m exhausted. It almost never fails when I’m tired and hungry and desperately wanting nothing more than to hide away, I get roped into something ridiculously fun. I can assure you that I almost never jump into these scenarios with a good attitude, even when I’m trying really hard to convince myself and pretend that I am. I’m human. I get cranky. I do, however, somehow pry myself away from whatever surface will let me sleep on it and say “yes” more often than not and I’m usually pleasantly surprised.
This was proven on my trip to Iceland with my friend Jacob. After a long day of driving, hiking, and extreme mental stimulation, Jacob met some people in our hostel that invited us to go out in Reykjavik. While I was ready (and more than happy) to just sleep through the night, he suggested that I be a “yes” person and go, and said he was going regardless and didn’t really care what I did. I may or may not have wanted to kick around in my bunk Bruce Almighty style, but I knew he was right.
I peeled my not-so-happy ass up and followed behind the group, trying and failing to dodge the overly-friendly [annoying] dude in the back who was trying to flirt and missing [ignoring] the fact that I wasn’t reciprocating. The six of us wound up at a pub and having a pint, then threw our coats on and set out to find a place that one of the guys in the group had heard of. It was a bar above another bar that looked like the top of an old tobacco barn with strung lights and hella dancing. THIS WAS MY JAM. I LOVE dancing. I LOVE barn-ish atmospheres. This was the moment the universe whispered in my ear telling me that this is why we decided that tagging along would pay off.
Unfortunately, dancing is not Jacob’s favorite thing. This is where the punctuality of adventures gets a little wonky. I found my euphoria, and Jacob quickly found the bar. To my pleasure and Jacob’s torment, we were there for three hours. I was a sweaty mess, flushed from dancing with the locals and wearing all kinds of layers (because…Iceland) and Jacob was flushed from discomfort and a few brews. We ended the evening with ditching the people we went with and heading back to crash at Kex hostel, which I highly recommend to anyone traveling to Reykjavik.
Adventures can be hit or miss, but they are adventures nonetheless. I would encourage you, dear reader friends, to be “yes” people. Throw yourselves into adventures and opportunities when they present themselves and make the most of the situations you are in, even if you don’t necessarily want to be in them in the beginning.
Actively seeking and planning adventures is essential too, but I would suggest mentally preparing yourself for things to go differently than you had anticipated and allowing yourself unplanned time; it will save you a bit of headache and disappointment in the long run and usually leaves room for opportunities you couldn’t have anticipated.
“Adventures happen, but not punctually.” – Dr. Bianca Legget
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.