Risk and uncertainty

Well that’s the dry January challenge out of the way. Giving up alcohol for a month definitely felt like it had two sides to it. It was a challenge, no doubt about that and I am enjoying the sense of achievement, but alcohol and its potential for addiction and damage lent a certain gravitas to that particular trial and now I am looking forward to something a little less serious. And maybe easier.

I came across the concept of a thirty day challenge about a year ago when I listened to this TED talk and it has intrigued me ever since. Having set about doing the dry January thing I listened to the talk again and I am fascinated by the potential change it can bring about.  It feels like it might be a voyage of discovery and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you will know I like that kind of journey.

Amongst outdoor types there is a lot of talk and excitement right now about ‘micro adventures’. It was started by adventurer and blogger Alastair Humphreys and seems to have taken on a life of its own. There are Micro Adventure Facebook groups springing up all over the place. People will typically climb a hill and bivouac out under the stars for just one night.

Just the place for a cosy night's sleep

Just the place for a cosy night’s sleep

They try to capture some of the excitement and sense of risk that adventures bring without having to commit to weeks or months away from home. I love the idea but I really don’t think it has to stop at ruffty tuffty outdoor stuff. If you look up ‘adventure’ in the dictionary you get various different definitions but I particularly like this one; “the participation or willingness to participate in things that involve uncertainty and risk”. There is no mention of mountains, freezing temperatures or frostbite. Nothing about physical endurance or working through pain barriers. Which brings me back to this thirty day thing.

The idea is simply to do something different for thirty days and see what the outcome is. When I say different, it might involve giving something up or it might involve doing something you don’t normally do. Either way it will certainly involve uncertainty and it may involve some kind of risk. (Such as discovering that you are an alcoholic after all.) This suggests that by definition it must be an adventure. Or at the very least a micro adventure.

My own thirty day challenge this month is to write something every day. I’ve set a lower limit of three hundred words per day and depending on the outcome I may publish some of them here or I may store them in my overflowing digital waste bin. It isn’t necessarily about writing a blog every day, just the discipline of practising the writing process and honing a skill that gives me a lot of pleasure. There is an element of testing myself which I like. It’s also an adventure.

Writing something every day definitely fits the definition. Goodness knows what kind of drivel might ensue (uncertainty) and publishing could expose me to any amount of ridicule (risk). I’m quite excited by this February challenge. I love a good adventure. Now where do I buy an expedition grade armchair to work from?

Oh, and thanks to my friend Sue for the wonderful hashtag of #writesaidfeb.