Questions of The First Adventurer

Maybe you’ve asked yourself the same questions as the first adventurer.

In this video, Canadian adventurer Bruce Kirkby crosses the Georgia Straight from Vancouver to Victoria and contemplates the meaning of adventure.

Maybe you’ve had similar contemplations. It’s only natural—even the first adventurer (at least the first recorded in the western world) had similar thoughts. His name was Petrarch, and his contemplations started the Renaissance.

There were no HD videos in Petrarch’s time, so you’ll just have to imagine the breathtaking scenery as you read the following passages.

Quoting Wikipedia:

“For pleasure alone he climbed Mount Ventoux, which rises to more than six thousand feet, beyond Vaucluse. Petrarch was dazed and stirred by the view of the Alps, the mountains around Lyons, the Rhone, the Bay of Marseilles. He took St. Augustine’s Confessions from his pocket and reflected that his climb was merely an allegory of aspiration towards a better life.

As the book fell open, Petrarch’s eyes were immediately drawn to the following words:

And men go about to wonder at the heights of the mountains, and the mighty waves of the sea, and the wide sweep of rivers, and the circuit of the ocean, and the revolution of the stars, but themselves they consider not.

Petrarch’s response was to turn from the outer world of nature to the inner world of soul:

I closed the book, angry with myself that I should still be admiring earthly things who might long ago have learned from even the pagan philosophers that nothing is wonderful but the soul, which, when great itself, finds nothing great outside itself. Then, in truth, I was satisfied that I had seen enough of the mountain; I turned my inward eye upon myself, and from that time not a syllable fell from my lips until we reached the bottom again. We look about us for what is to be found only within.

This rediscovery of the inner world is the real significance of the Ventoux event. The Renaissance begins not with the ascent of Mont Ventoux, but with the subsequent descent—the ‘return… to the valley of soul’.”

Having had the realization that, “We look about us for what is to be found only within,” do we then look at the mountaintop disdainfully? No. We still climb the mountain. The difference is, we are no longer climbing away from ourselves.

We continue to climb, cycle, and swim to see “a glimpse of something holy” knowing that holiness is both out there and in here. We summit in the morning.

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