If we are ever to find a story worth living, we won’t find it at the mall.
Our lives unfold before us in decidedly unformulaic ways; in ways that defy packaging and marketing and the notions of fashion stylists.
“Never Stop Exploring” is great advice and it’s a cool tagline, but when i wear clothing made by The North Face i can do so without exploring anything.
i may look every bit a mountaineer as i stand on the sideline of my son’s soccer match, but in the end i am going to get in my minivan and head back to the comforts of home.
i may wear North face and drive a Land Rover (i actually don’t drive one, although i think they’re pretty sweet) as i cruise the suburbs in search of the next latte (i actually don’t drink lattes, not that there’s anything wrong with that), but in the end it’s just a look.
The gear says “adventure,” but the life, well, it says something else.
It is a sign of the times that we often strike a pose that communicates adventure while we simultaneously carefully avoid the genuine adventures that are all around us.
And yet, there is something calling to us. The adventure of life out on the frontier beckons us; it almost haunts us from the inside. It’s the reason we are captivated by grand, mythic stories. It’s why we are compelled by tales of risk and courage wherever we find them: in the marketplace; in the world of sports; in relationships; and in countless other aspects of life.
It’s a clue to how our lives are meant to be.
We long to find a story thay means something; a story bigger just than just making life work by getting more comfortable in the suburbs. We need a story that speaks to the deep yearnings in our souls.
That longing draws us out into unknown regions.
The reason “Never Stop Exploring” works as a tagline is because in our souls we are explorers. But it takes courage to be serious about exploration. In a world of fabricated, faux adventures, striking out from what is comfortable and familiar isn’t easy.
And it is often discouraged.
There is an impulse — more than that, a prevailing school of thought — in much of suburban, middle-class, 21st Century America that all the frontiers have been explored.
It’s a mentality summed up well in the film The Truman Show. In one scene, Truman — a person who unknowingly lives in a fabricated world which is actually a television show in which all the people in his life are actors complicit in the deception — declares in school one day that when he grows up he wants to be an explorer “like the great Magellan.”
Truman’s excitement is soon trampled, however, when his teacher points to a map of the world and says: “You’re too late; there’s really nothing left to explore.”
But Truman is on to something. If you have seen the movie you know he is not easily deterred.
Truman’s persistence is a picture of that human longing for the frontier; the hunger for real exploration.
Like Truman, we sense that there is more to this life, and we go in search of it.
Ultimately, if we don’t find the larger story into which our story fits and makes sense, we will settle for small stories we can manage that give us a facsimile of the real thing. This is where all of our addictions come from.
But if we could get connected to the larger story for which our hearts were made, that would change everything.
The frontier is calling. It’s time to explore.