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20 Years On And, Still, The Adventure Continues

Author: Laura Cooney
Year: Adventure


I’ve got this 45x30x20 rucksack on my back and it's no way near as heavy as the one I hauled around Europe in flip flops circa 2001, I can tell you.

Today though, now 40, two children under my belt I honestly don’t know how we did it. This bag weighs a ton. How did I carry my worldly belongings, a tent and assorted who knows what around the world when I can’t carry this bag, lighter than my child, around a city all day?

In any case, I sit at the dockside in Bristol, looking out at the harbour and the bag is anything but a millstone around my neck, not at all. Today I am free and the word adventure hangs in the air, like the breeze. But it does not pass me by, I am fully aware of it. I’m grasping it with both hands.


Europe was my first adventure, travel was what adventure meant to me. New places, new people, from Prague to Venice via wherever we wanted and with zero certainty of where we’d sleep. Armed with no smartphone, a sense of freedom and only the Lonely Planet guidebook to Eastern Europe. We were off, there was no stopping us, even when we were late, discovering boats we thought existed to take us from E to F did not! And that night in Zagreb when we had to share the last single bed, certainly not risking the cockroach crispy floor. Nothing could’ve been better, core memories created, lifelong friendship cemented.


My daughters have sent me off with requests, one wants a horse toy and the other wants stickers. My four year old, she says to me, ‘But don’t worry if you can’t, just have fun mummy.’ She’s 4 and already empathetic. Wow, maybe we are learning something from the original Cinderella here. This is how I want them. Close, but confident enough to let me go, that way leads to the world.


Ten years later what does adventure mean to me? Same as it always did. Travel. This time it’s different. Couched as you’d expect perhaps in holidays taken from a stable job, planned, afforded with the wages that have to be offset against a mortgage. Trapping factors that hold you in but also strangely let you take wing. Going to show that some things can be one thing and the other. I’ve spent ten years studying and letting the world get both bigger and smaller around me. I can’t just take off, I have responsibility. Children kind of loom. If I want them it needs to be soon, and if I don’t? Well, that’s not the case.

So adventure comes in a different package then and that’s ok. You cannot stay the same forever. Life moves on.


I breathe the air in deeply.


I nearly die for the second, maybe third, time in four years.

The children, having them was the best experience of my life and having them nearly killed me. Some things can be one thing and the other.

I wake one morning and I look at the blue sky from my grey room.

Things don’t feel so exciting any more. I am lost at the sea, where once I carried a backpack and surfed, there is a weight that is now drowning me, and I haven’t yet moved.

It takes a little while to see the light through the curtain again. Time and sleep, cocooned in the knowledge that if I just rest surely I’ll feel better again.

And then one day I see something online. It’s 45 jumbled words that I need to turn into something 300 words long. A character appears. Her name is Lisa. Lisa doesn’t lie down. Lisa smashes it. Lisa is vibrant, gossamer and flighty.

Lisa helps me to choose the left fork in the road rather earlier than I expected. She takes a bit of the weight and allows me to get up.

The children do the rest.


I sit at this table. I look at a small wooden horse and some dinosaur stickers that I’ve laid beside my laptop for inspiration. I’ve seen this prompt online: ‘What does adventure mean to you?’

I breathe again and I write. I write. I write. I write.

I write the words that are true, on the page in front of me.

In bold:

Life, and life alone, is the greatest adventure of all. So live!

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