Slowing Down Time with Micro Adventures

11 Aug 2019

I’ve noticed over the past year or so of my life that my days really blend together. As I’m approaching middle age time seems to be flying by and I feel as though I’m missing out on life a bit. I’ve been asleep at the wheel so to speak and I’ve been doing a lot of looking in the mirror lately and trying to understand how I got here and what I can do to slow my life down and make it more fulfilling.

We recently returned from a week of camping with the kids not too far from home in western Maryland. We were only there for 4 nights but during that time I was reminded of the power of small adventures and how invigorating they can be. On the third day we took a short road trip from the campground to visit the town of Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. We really had no idea what to expect and I was a little worried that the kids would be bored out of their minds and that it could end up being a huge fail. I was pleasantly surprised, however when what we discovered was a very cool old town nestled in the valley at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet.

The kids got a kick out of the fact that, as we made our approach, we managed to leave Maryland, cross the Potomac and cut through a corner of Virginia before finally landing in West Virginia. 3 states in about 10 minutes! We then had fun roaming around the old town and seeing the views of the rivers, crossing the old railroad bridge and meeting some hikers who were on their way up the Appalachian trail into Pennsylvania. My eldest son, who had never heard of the Appalachian trail, was fascinated by the idea of hiking from Maine all the way to Georgia. Even my toddler got a thrill out of riding “the bus” down from the Harper’s Ferry visitors center into the town. At one point after climbing the natural stairs up to “Jefferson Rock” we got stuck in a rain shower and had to wait it out on the porch of Harper’s Mansion which overlooked the town. It was a memorable experience for all of us.

Harpers Ferry sits right on the Potomac river between Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia

This small adventure reminded me of an Art of Manliness podcast that I had listened to a while back about a guy who was promoting the idea of Micro Adventures. The guest was Alistair Humphreys and he understood that not everyone has the time or the money to go off on an expedition to climb Everest or to take 4 years to bike around the world. His idea of a micro adventure is something that is accessible to anyone while keeping the spirit of a large expedition: namely getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new and experiencing life for yourself rather than through a screen. In an interesting twist not long after I recalled this idea of micro adventures I stumbled upon a link to this video where memory champion Nelson Dellis talks about this very idea of having small, daily adventures. He talks about how not everything has to be a big, grand adventure like we see on Instagram or Facebook. Sometimes we get caught up in this idea but it really doesn’t have to be something huge to be memorable. This really resonated with me after our own little adventure that day.

Another example of a micro adventure that we had on our humble little trip: The map of our campground showed a nature trail but we could not seem to find it. We asked around and even the campground staff didn’t seem to know where it was. Finally, my son and I decided to look one last time and we finally discovered a small entrance off of one of the park roads. The sign had fallen over and the entrance was slightly overgrown. But once we got on the path it was a beautiful walk through the woods and we were the only ones there as the sun was setting. We were gone for no more than an hour but it was, again, a memorable little adventure.

After finding that Nelson Dellis video I took a closer look and found a post on his website all about how to make life memorable. And this is the stuff he talks about. Making small changes, doing different things frequently so that all our days don’t blend together. As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, this is precisely how I’ve been feeling of late. The same routine, day-in and day-out has caused time to fly by and I find myself at 38 wondering where my 30’s went. I think Nelson’s advice makes a ton of sense and there is even some neuroscience to back it up. The brain creates new memories when things are different or out of the norm. If your days are all the same then there are no new memories, nothing to look back on, and time seems to move faster. After experiencing some micro adventures on our vacation this past week and diving into the concept I think this idea has some legs as a means of making time seem like it’s passing more slowly. Time to go out and find some adventures…

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