The Unique Talent of Adventure

As a teacher I work with the best people on the planet – adolescent preteens

Now, I know exactly what you are thinking: Teaching middle school kids? That’s seriously the worst job ever, right? With their dramatic fits of rage, random outbursts of immaturity, and just overall essence of awkwardness? Couldn’t you find a better job, like scraping roadkill off of the streets or being a crash test dummy?

That’s what I once thought too. However, as it turns out, these guys are actually the coolest. Now, this isn’t an education blog, but an AT blog, so I’d better bring the point on home quickly before I lose you.

My students have a sense of adventure

They just get it. They don’t take life too seriously yet, just themselves (I mean, have you seen all their bajillion selfies?). It’s easy to open their minds and hash out the possibilities. As I taught some brilliant 12 and 13 year-olds, we read Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was during this time, as we were finishing this book, that I was somewhat beginning to doubt my decision to hike the AT. The possibility of a job looked promising and I was wondering if this was really what I “should” be doing with my life. So I decided to see what my students thought by giving them a writing assignment. The prompt went something like this:

At the beginning of the novel, Professor Arronax is faced with a major decision. He is given the opportunity to travel aboard the Abraham Lincoln in search of a giant narwhal or stay at home with his collections, plants, and pets. The first choice offered adventure, but the second choice offered security – both great things to have in life. Did the Professor make the right choice? Is it better to choose adventure and the unknown over security and safety? What would you have done?

Their responses were fantastic. Horribly misspelled and a little hard to read at times, but fantastic nonetheless. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts that really made me grin as I read them.

“It’s not about how many safe years you have in life, it’s what risks you take in those years that count.”

“Adventure is the new, the unseen, that for which life is worth living. One must live now and in the moment, for however mainstream culture has made it, that statement loses no truth. We have but little time on this Earth, and it’s what we choose to do with it that determines the value of our lives.”

“If you truly love something, choose that adventure. If the adventure makes you happy, go for it. If you have a chance to make a difference, take it. If you want to go on an adventure that will make you happy, go. When you’re really passionate about something, it is worth every risk.”

“Too many people in this world are ‘normal’ or, in other words, content with security. The reason people celebrate successful figures is because they have the unique talent of adventure.”

The unique talent of adventure

Reading their words was almost scary at times. There’s no way my kids could have had any idea of my mindset, yet their essays seemed to be directed right at me. Without realizing it, they suddenly became my favorite cheerleaders. There are many more quotes I have tucked away just like these, all coming from my wise and brilliant 8th graders. I’m telling you, they just get it. Unlike so many of us who have lost the magic of adventure, they recognize that life isn’t just about that paycheck or that promotion. They still have beautiful young hearts that yearn for greatness, even if it is a greatness recognized only by themselves or those close to them. My favorite quote is the last one in which my student mentioned “…the unique talent of adventure.” Adventure is definitely something I could see as a talent. It takes bravery and it takes guts, something we seem to lose as we grow older. Talents can be lost as we fail to practice them; I’d hate to think that I’ll ever lose the unique talent of adventure.

When in doubt, call in the 8th graders

Needless to say, these little punks reaffirmed my faith in my decision to hike the AT. I have every intention of turning to these quotes as I wander along the trail. I’ll remember their sense of adventure and I’ll hope that it transcends to me in order to make it through the long and hard days.

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Liz Kibby : Feb 22nd

    Some of their writing gave me chills, that’s powerful! Most creative source of asking for advice about the trail I know of. Good luck!

    Reply

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