The Way of Adventure
An Unconventional Online Course for Young People


There’s a fable used to illustrate the two main branches of Buddhism. Three monks had been separated from their clan while traveling in the woods. In their wandering they stumbled upon a great walled compound. Climbing the wall, the first monk saw that behind the walls laid enlightenment; he yelled out in joy, and he leapt over the wall. The second monk climbed the wall and, overjoyed, he also leapt over. But the third, after scaling the wall and observing the potential of enlightenment, climbed back down. He went back into the woods to find his clan and share what he had learned.

Leading an adventurous life will not make you enlightened, but it sometimes feels close. It’s like discovering a great secret—that you can craft your own life and chart your own course—that you want to jealousy guard for yourself.

Many adventurers lead incredible lives—athletes, entrepreneurs, travelers—but they keep this spirit of adventure to themselves. They benefit from it but they do not share it. They have peeked over the wall, seen the promised land, and never looked back.

Your final challenge is to be the monk who returns from the wall: to share what you’ve learned and inspire other people to lead more adventurous lives.

Here’s what to do: Find one person to inspire with the spirit of adventure. This should be someone who you have the unique opportunity to influence: probably a friend, family member, or someone in your extended community.

Maybe it’s a grandparent whose life has become repetitive. Or a friend who’s stuck in a rut. Or a younger person who didn’t grow up with the same opportunities that you did.

Now go on an adventure with this person.

Notice that I didn’t say “take them on an adventure” or “send them on an adventure.” The idea is to co-create an experience. To lead by example and learn through action. That’s what people pay attention to the most, after all.

Remember, an adventure is about intentionally putting yourself into uncomfortable situations that lead to growth. This can be the smallest adventure in the world, if that’s what your friend is ready for. Maybe they have severe social anxiety, and just talking to a stranger at a party constitutes an adventure. If they’ve never hiked before, just going half a mile down a trail might be an adventure. There’s no need to trap ourselves in the imagery of “adventure” that’s propagated by the greater culture: whitewater kayaking, getting lost in Thailand, etc. Such grand adventures are always born of smaller ones.

Go on an adventure with your person. Share what you’ve learned. And then document this experience in your portfolio, in whichever medium seems best: writing, photo, video, art, or otherwise.

When you have completed this final adventure, then you have completed this course.

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Onwards, for the last time.