It used to be that adventure was something you had – not something you could purchase with a credit card. Now there’s an “adventure industry.”
A lot of things seem to be going this way.
Now you can buy the experience of connecting with nature. You can buy the experience of becoming a sailor. You can buy the experience of going hunting. You can buy the experience of becoming a man. You can buy membership in a “tribe.” You can buy mentorship. You can buy apprenticeship. You can buy spiritual retreats.
These are all kinds of experiences or life paths for which we long. But we’d be fooling ourselves to think that by buying them, we’re having the same experiences as those of our ancestors.
It’s understandable why cash has become a shortcut for people who want meaning and adventure (and for meaning-focused people who need money). But what has been lost is the unique cashless nature of all of the things we really long. These things – from rites of passage to formative adventures and skillsets – were “illiquid.” They were cool and precious precisely because they required the harder-to-find currencies of reputation, patience, toil, honor, initiative, daring, and even some luck.
When money becomes a stand-in for these things, any “adventure” or “life experience” purchased – while good – must be cheapened.
I’m not saying there isn’t a role for guides, trainers, and specialists, but I do think it’s worth it to find the adventures that aren’t easily bought with cash. How you acquire a thing is almost as important as the thing itself.