In May of this year, the dare-based television show Fear Factor was revived by MTV. I don’t think I ever watched a full episode of the show during its original run from 2001 to 2006, though catching snippets at a friend’s house or while at the gym was virtually unavoidable.
I recall an episode where one person from each couple/team had to lie down in a glass coffin which was subsequently locked. A few dozen tarantulas were then dumped on top of the person through a chute, followed by a hundred or so live crickets.
Outside the coffin, more live crickets were fed continuously through another chute into a blender-type mechanism with a tap of sorts at the bottom. And only by chugging down glass after glass of the fresh cricket guts — fast enough to get the blender level to dip below the halfway mark — could the second contestant from each pair pop the latch on the coffin and release his or her teammate from the feeding frenzy of spiders.
My aversion to the show, believe it or not, wasn’t due to any particular disgust at the situations, but rather to something closer akin to irritation. However, that’s beyond the scope of this post.
People would pull pained faces or shudder and exclaim, “I can’t imagine ever doing this stuff, no matter how much money!” Meanwhile, I’d be thinking things like these:
Obviously, they aren’t going to make anyone do something on national television that could kill or permanently harm them, so what’s the big deal?
The prize money seems to throw things off. I mean, if it’s about the money, you know you have an 85% chance of drinking the cricket guts for nothing.
I’d do it just on principle. I’d love to get on the show and make a bored face or yawn and let a tarantula poke its furry legs inside my mouth, just to rain on their sensationalistic parade and prove how silly it all is. Mind over matter.
However, it occurs to me that I’m probably not representative of the average person when it comes to such things. My sense of adventure and the boundaries of my own personal comfort zone are likely outliers to the norm.
There’s not much that makes me uncomfortable; and for those things that might, my tenacity and determination not to let a person or challenge get the better of me would likely be enough to get me to do a thing.
That is … unless I thought I were being goaded into it, in which case my unwillingness to be controlled or manipulated would cause me to decline.
What can I say? I live simply in many ways, but I’m somewhat complicated in others.
Still, when I look at the scene depicted in the main post image above — if I really think about that tent thingy being suspended from a sheer cliff by … what? one hook? … I can’t help but feel a certain sense of terror at the thought of hanging out there (pun intended).
Don’t even get me started on the thought of sleeping in it.
For me, that scenario goes beyond adventure to issues of trust. However skillful someone may be, however noble the intentions, I don’t know if I could get beyond the notion that human error could still come into play. And could anyone really ever be sure of the nature and constitution of a rock face?
All that is to say, while my sense of adventure is pretty wide — even I still have my limits.
In other words, comfort zones are relative. Subjective.
I encourage people often — in conversation, when I speak to groups, and in my writing — to continue to develop their sense of wonder and adventure. In fact, Chapter 38 of The Best Advice So Far has this as its central bit of advice:
Do something new every day.
I stand by that. I live it. I believe it to be a mindset that prevents ruts and that makes getting up in the morning something to look forward to.
Yet I also acknowledge that what this means for each person can be vastly different.
I’ve encountered “motivational” speakers and writers who seem to tout that if you’re not hiking the long route to Machu Picchu or living the homeless life in Brooklyn for months, you really aren’t committed to breaking free of your limitations in life.
In response to this, I quote La La Land and say … Pishy caca.
I sometimes fear that people hear me speak, or read the anecdotes in my writing, and they compare. They think I’m saying, “You should do the things I do. Your sense of adventure should be the same as mine. You should be like me.”
And while I do stand behind certain underlying principles, I don’t ever want to be perceived as spelling out specifics.
So maybe, relative to who you are, it may push your boundaries to look a stranger in the eye, smile and say, “Hello.”
It may be an adrenaline-boosting adventure for you to attend a party or cookout where you only know the host, who you realize will likely not be able to be by your side the whole time.
It may be a noteworthy challenge for you to sign up for a personal training session at a gym.
Or to visit an authentic Indian restaurant and try a bite of chicken saag.
These things would not challenge me personally. But that doesn’t make them “worse” or “less-than,” any more than my adventures are less valuable for the sake that I’d likely decline staying in a hanging cliff-tent-thingy. In fact, your adventures and challenges may actually be greater accomplishments relative to you than it might be for me to be locked in that coffin full of hungry tarantulas.
Yes, I mean that.
Keeping a sense of adventure isn’t based on any one checklist.
Neither is it a competition.
It’s a mindset.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
They aren’t you.
I’m not you.
Only you are you.
And that’s a great person to be.
Free yourself to create and live out your own next adventure.