Only an adventure

These hikers chose the adventurous path over the convenient sidewalks. Kelly and I admired their skill as we took the convenient path at Great Falls, April 2015

These hikers chose adventure over the convenience of the sidewalks.
Boomdee and I admired their skill from the paved path at Great Falls, VA, April 2015

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”G.K. Chesterton

I must admit, it’s a bit of a stretch for me to consider most of what we call inconveniences as adventures.  Being stuck in traffic?  Waiting two hours for a doctors appointment?  Having a flight cancelled or delayed?  Being awakened early by someone calling the wrong number, or loud noise outside my window? How on earth can any of these things be thought of as adventures?

Perhaps Chesterton wrote in the days before “inconvenience” became a ubiquitous euphemism for mistake or poor customer service — as in “we apologize for the inconvenience.”  Maybe in Chesterton’s day, an inconvenience was something riskier or more life-altering.

However, most inconveniences do contain at least the seeds of some sort of adventure.  In bad traffic, we might choose to take a detour and explore new roads.  While waiting around, we can lose ourselves in another world via a novel or other reading material.  If we are awake earlier than needed, we can take it as a gift of time and start our day with something we enjoy that we don’t usually make time for in the morning, such as a leisurely cup of tea or coffee as we gaze outside at the morning light. No telling what we might see– interesting or delightful things that we’re normally too busy to notice.

There’s a sense in which anything out of the ordinary really is an adventure, if we train our minds to see it as such.  “Rightly considered,” it’s an adventure just to be alive, no matter how inconvenient it can become.  It can become a kind of game to take Chesterton’s words as a challenge, and transform irritation by imagination.

What annoyances are we most likely to “wrongly consider” today? Let’s exercise the alchemy of attitude, and have an adventure instead.



  1. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia, as we embark on this adventurous week. Let’s make it happen! As I looked at the sunrise, just moments ago, with it’s mixture of pinks and blues and scattered clouds above the ocean, I wondered how ANYONE could ever think of it as “just a sunrise”? Since I was up at 6:00 this morning, I had those early morning adventures that you reference. I was very quiet though since it was way too early for “Wally” 🐥 to greet the household. I hope all Denton adventures are good ones this week. I have another adventure at hand, excitement of going to my (oops, our) verandah! Prayers cross the distance. 🙏 Sheila💛

    • Sheila, any sunrise over the ocean is never “just a sunrise!” Thanks for giving me a mental picture of it, complete with the sound of quiet as Walter behaves himself so as not to wake up the humans in the house.

      BTW I totally LOVE the February Verandah! Just the sort of place to run away to when life becomes overwhelming. All tucked away inside those lovely green vines and surrounded by birds singing. It’s an easy hop from there to imagine the cozy cabin attached to it, complete with quilts hanging on the walls and– need I say it? a couple of kettles on the wood-burning stove! Maybe something like this or this or this. 😀 This winter fantasy brought to you by Club Verandah!

      • Sheila

        And those fantasies that you shared were so inviting, come sit right here by me! 🆗

        • Anytime! Pass the popcorn.

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    Oh, that Chesterton calls me to task!
    Caribou Coffee, where my son works (similar to Starbucks) was selling a mug with an ADVENTURE graphic on it. He rolled his eyes as he bought it for me, but I do love that perspective!
    In a recent church retreat in Maine we discussed “inciting events,” those (sometimes unnoticed) moments that start us on a new path, or story … our adventure!
    That said, life is full of inciting events, upon which we may or may not act, and may or may not partake in an exciting new adventure!
    For example, what if Sam hadn’t chosen to follow Frodo? 😀

    • We have Caribou coffee in at least some southern towns. There’s one I used to enjoy visiting when we were staying in Buckhead back in the days when Jeff went to Atlanta yearly for a dental meeting. I actually like the vibe at Caribou better than at Starbucks. I think it would fun to work at either. The aromas alone would improve the job.

      I like the idea of inciting events. And yes, many of the ones that lead to the biggest adventures don’t even begin to hint of what lies in store. Somewhere on my list of quotes there’s one that mentions Frodo – he’s being warned about the risks that come with adventure. Good thing for the literary world that he didn’t listen. 😀

  3. Rene

    “The alchemy of attitude…,” what a lovely way to describe it!

    • Thank you. 🙂 In my experience, it really works.

  4. Amy

    What a beautiful idea. Some of my best adventures have been inconveniences But I only saw it in hindsight. Aaron and I went to Delaware once and we’re stuck on the highway for some time on our way home due to an accident. He read to me and we talked and laughed. That was a good inconvenience.

    • That’s a classic case of making lemonade. How wonderful that Aaron is the sort of young man who is easy to imagine reading, laughing and talking through being stuck on the highway.

  5. Jack

    As a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, I’ve many an occasion to give up on them when they’re down 10-2 going into the late innings of the game. Every now and then (just every now and then), they’ll score 9 runs in the 9th to win it, against all odds and common sense and experience, a pretty good metaphor for not quitting when you get throw a little curve. “When you’re luck is batting zero, get your chin up off the floor, mister you can be a hero, you can open any door, there’s nothing to it but to do it.” My dad is probably smiling in heaven to know I’m quoting Damn Yankees!

    • That’s classic Braves baseball, and never more so than in that magical season of 1991. I have fond memories of listening to their games on the radio, back in the days when they NEVER won much despite having really good players such as Hank Aaron, Felipe Alou, Phil Niekro and Rico Carty. I was so young in those days that I was quite surprised the first time I saw a photo of Phil Niekro and found out he was white. In my very limited knowledge of pro baseball, it seemed to me that all the best players were black, and besides, I had always thought that the radio announcers were calling him “Phil Negro.” That tells you a lot about the world I lived in, I guess.

      I grew up listening to the LP of the music of Damn Yankees, too, and I LOVE the song “You gotta have heart.” I also love the opening number “6 months out of every year.” I always wanted to be Gloria Thorpe, and in a strange way, I guess that dream came true when I was the college newspaper reporter/photographer for the NAIA championship baseball team. I’m sure I was every bit as snoopy as Gloria was, too. Ever since Jeff got sick I can’t listen to the songs Joe and Meg sang to each other without getting all weepy. We saw an outdoor production of that play together in Dayton, Ohio, just before Matt was born. I would like to have seen Bebe Neuwirth (aka Lilith on Cheers) as Lola in the Broadway revival a few years back. BTW our older son, a true baseball freak, HATES the Yankees so much it bothers me, and I’m no Yankee fan. Also BTW– did you know Jean Stapleton (who played Edith Bunker) was in the original Broadway play? In a minor role, but her voice on the LP is unmistakable.

  6. HarryS

    Is it odd or is it God?

    • That’s always an interesting question to consider! 🙂

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