Practical Action Adventure

Soon I’ll have completed courses in motorcycle riding and professional driving. I’ve considered these courses for years but always ended up dismissing them as frivolous. Surely such unproductive and expensive forms of entertainment are a sign of priorities out of order.

But lately I’ve come to view these activities as entirely practical. I’ve been to several countries now where motorcycles are the best way to get around. One of them won’t even rent cars to tourists because their driving endangers so many locals on the island’s small and winding roads. Bad riding, they figure, endangers mostly you.

And they are right. In the name of the public good I hopped onto a two-wheeler (for the first time in my life) and nearly killed myself.

As for professional driving school, it’s estimated that in my remaining lifetime I’ll spend another 39,000 hours behind the wheel. Those hours piloting a high-speed explosive-filled hunk of metal are worth doing well — which probably means formal training beyond what I got when I was fifteen.

So if these courses stand to avoid or mitigate even one accident then they are justified.

But now that I’ve given myself permission (by way of practicality) to partake in these activities, I’m struck by how adventurous they seem. I mean legitimately adventurous, unlike so much entertainment today. Movies, for example, make it easy to sit in a comfy chair in a dark room watching a flashing screen, and to emerge hours later convinced one has just been on an adventure. Maybe, but one that is entirely virtual and vicarious. Better if ‘adventure’ means the life I actually lead.

Ironically, what makes these activities so adventurous to me is the practicality. It elevates them, from mere thrill ride or amusement, to serious training. Training for future missions, you might say.