What is a little adventure?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the topic of memory, and the role adventures create in making time feel rich and full. Routines are good, but life can’t all be routine. Aiming for one big adventure and one little adventure each week can be a good balance.

A “big adventure” might take half a day — the sort of thing that happens on a weekend. Or sometimes during the week (I went to Longwood Gardens by myself last night and it was fun! I left the house at 3:45 p.m., and got home at 7:30…)

Little adventures might only take an hour or two. In that sense they are easier to pull off, but that also means that they are not so obvious. What sort of little adventures can we do on a Wednesday night? The major criteria are that the little adventure is:

  1. Out of the ordinary and
  2. You are looking forward to it.

Keeping these two ideas in mind helps with generating possibilities. I don’t do a whole lot of solo Christmas carol singing, but I do enjoy holiday music, so, for instance, going to my new house to play the piano and sing was a little adventure.

Another night I listened to a lecture on Bach and sang along with the section we were studying of the B-Minor Mass. Lots of institutions are offering webinars or virtual talks these days — choosing one that sounds intriguing for the 8 p.m. slot post kid bedtime would make an evening stand out from the usual scrolling/Netflix/puttering. A virtual party might be an adventure (if it’s one you’re looking forward to) — my kids attended a really cute one for my husband’s office that featured a stuffed animal making craft and marshmallows. I toasted a friend’s book launch recently, complete with a chicken hat and a round of kahoots. And…I’m going to my little brother’s wedding virtually this weekend! They’re doing their vows before an official (virtually), and will do a party sometime in 2021 (which I’m sure will be an adventure too, albeit a big one).

These days, an outdoor gathering with a friend could count as an adventure. Running or hiking in a new-to-you location could qualify, or even just exercising in a place you don’t go frequently. I’ve gone on a few guided hikes this fall with a local trails association. They are 2 hours (and since local, just 5 minutes on either side for travel), and have taught me new things about my neighborhood, so that definitely seems like a little adventure to me. During winter, a walk in new snow always feels like an adventure — the world is entirely different, with familiar shapes taking on new forms.

I know different places are in different states of restriction right now, and the weather is more or less terrible in different places. But depending on where you are, a little adventure might mean grabbing lunch or coffee at a new place, or getting take out from a new restaurant. If museums are open in your area, you could go for a quick visit to somewhere nearby. Especially if you have a membership, there’s no additional marginal cost to doing so. If you have a flexible job, you might be able to go during a work day if you make up the time later or earlier. If you have kids, and a partner, you might each give each other 1-2 hours free on the weekend or on a weekend night to allow for such little adventures.

You might do some browsing in a fun store — some place a little quirky. The holidays provide an excuse! I have counted going to the library as a little adventure. I’m out of the habit of going, and it was closed for a long time this year, but going for 45 minutes or so on a Friday is a wonderful little adventure as I see the new books and pay a visit to my favorite browsing sections (often coffee table books I wouldn’t want to keep in my house long-term). If you’ve got a library nearby and are working from home, this could fit in the space of a canceled call.

If you have really little kids, in-home adventures are harder to pull off, though perhaps your partner might agree to take the kids out for a bit — in which case, being alone in your silent home might itself be a really appealing adventure! Trying a new recipe without kids underfoot can be fun. I put together a lamb roast on Sunday during the baby’s afternoon nap. I rolled out Christmas cookies with my daughter at lunch on Tuesday.

Speaking of which, kids can be part of a little adventure, as long as it’s still something you’re looking forward to. Little kids have a way of turning adult fun things into not-fun things (exhibit A: a roaring fire in the fire place…) but there might be other options. A stroller walk through a neighborhood with lots of lights might work. My older kids are decent company for most things.

Time keeps passing, regardless of what we do with it. It’s easy to spend time mindlessly. It won’t necessarily occur to us in any given moment to attempt a little adventure. So it’s best to make a list of possibilities, and then try to plan in a few during a designated weekly planning session. I plan my weeks on Fridays — and many of my little adventures take the form of a family or personal priority, written on the list and scheduled in (with a back-up slot if I think it will be necessary). It doesn’t always work, but when it does, life feels, well, just a little more adventurous.

What little adventures have you done lately? What are you looking forward to?

Photo: An ornament at Longwood Gardens

7 thoughts on “What is a little adventure?

  1. I’ve loved visiting new neighborhoods with my two toddlers to check out Christmas lights. We’ll even do detours on the way home from daycare to mix things up – I just make sure I have snacks in the car to hold them over until dinner or else nobody is having fun.

  2. We just moved from the city to a village on the outskirts, and this has inspired me to make a list of little adventures for my lunch break – there are a few cafes with outdoor seating, a cute bookshop, an old fashioned hardware store, and some nice (if muddy, need to buy some wellies) walks by the river.

  3. 1. Walks/hikes in local parks that I never knew about before the pandemic.
    2. An afternoon with my husband doing the audio driving tour at the Forsythe wildlife refuge in NJ, followed by takeout from one of the better AC casino restaurants.
    3. Taking classes for the first time through the Osher Living Learning program via Zoom through Temple University. It is geared to people over 50, although anyone can sign up. I dove in and took 5 classes ranging from a study of 8 important people in Canadian history, jazz for the non-musician, pre-1700 European history, Philadelphia architecture, and world landmarks (which helped quell my travel jonesing a bit). I LOVED it-it was a nice respite from my work day. I am semi retired, so I just put “ no calls” on my calendar when the classes met and avoided scheduling calls during that time. Looking into Osher programs offered by Duke or Northwestern for the winter, as well as Delaware Valley University which has a surprising array of interesting offerings and seminars for a smaller university.
    4. Meeting a friend for a socially distanced walk every other week. We live about a half hour away from each other and meet at different places in between.

  4. We like board games and have several that are fun for a wide range of ages and only take 30 minutes. This is great for those post-dinner, pre-bedtime periods! I also look forward to anything my husband and I do without kids. We had a really great time finding school clearance items at a store this past fall. 😂 I recently have gotten into the whole planner-layout-with-stickers thing, and that’s an enjoyable, yet not super crafty, craft.

    I enjoy hearing about the things you do in the evenings. Makes me feel like doing something, too. 😊

  5. Trying a new (to me!) restaurant weekly. It’s so much fun to drive out, and take a walk for the 20-30 minutes it takes for the order to be ready, and I’ve discovered new places in my town!

  6. Last night we went to a local art group’s Christmas event with a decorated tree competition, Christmas market, and an entire indoor rodeo space lined with blow up Christmas decorations and selfi-spots. My toddler was running non-stop for an entire hour to take it all in. Keeping her away from the glass Christmas ornaments was a challenge, but the memory will be something I will enjoy for a while.

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