Grief and a Need for Adventure

For the past few years, I’ve had an overwhelming desire for adventure, especially some grand and epic journey that would change me forever. I’ve noticed this same trait in others of my grief “age group,” those of us who lost our soul mates around the same time. Apparently, our psyches believe that only something great and powerful and life affirming (or death defying) can offset the terrible loss we suffered. This feeling isn’t reserved for just our group of course, but since we’ve suffered a similar loss within a few months of each other, the phases we all go through are more apparent to me.

For some people, the desire for an epic adventure dissipates as their grief dissipates. For example, I have a friend who’s been grieving the end of a love affair for the past couple of years, and although she’s been going through this same need for adventure, she now seems to have reached both an acceptance of her loss and a readiness to resume life on a more prosaic level. She wants to write and do art, which are adventures of their own, but both seem to demand some sort of settled life so the artist can pursue those adventures on art’s own terms.

campingMe? I’m not there yet. Although it seems as if I’m unequipped physically for great feats of endurance, such as an epic walk, I’m not ready to accept the idea of a settled life. In my case, I’m not sure it’s still about a need for adventure so much as a need for a simpler life. What could be simpler than taking a walk? One foot in front of the other. That’s all you need to do. At least, that’s the way it appears on the surface. The more I research, the more complicated such a life becomes. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. In desert states, sometimes you have to walk fifty to a hundred miles before coming upon a water source. At a half gallon of water and five to ten miles a day, that means a minimum load of forty pounds just of water. Add to that food, shelter (tent), sleeping system, rain gear, emergency kit, change of clothes. No wonder people who walk across the country push or pull carts so they can haul the necessities. Or they walk with nothing, and trust in the journey to supply what they need. I have no interest in a cart, and no ability to surrender to trust, so here I sit, journeying on my computer, dreaming as yet impossible dreams.

People keep asking me if I had inherited this house if I would continue living here. I always say no just because owning this house was never an option, but the truth is, I probably would stay out of inertia. If you have a place to live, it’s much harder to uproot yourself than if life uproots you. But eventually I’d have to leave because I don’t have the wherewithal to keep up such a house. Nor could I handle the stress of upkeep. Most of my recent stresses and dramas have centered around this house. Alarms chirping, things breaking down, things needing to be fixed, replaced, cleaned, packed. Things. Other stresses and dramas have centered around my computer and car. More things. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as a caretaker of things. I want more from life than . . . things. (I’ve considered joining the tiny house movement, but again, although on the surface, owning a tiny house seems simple, in the end it’s as complicated as owning a big house. )

I have dance commitments through the end of May, so whether the house sells or not, I’ll be staying in this area at least that long. (Jazz and belly dance performances in March, Hawaiian and Tahitian performances in May.) And then? More dancing, probably. I still have much to learn that dancing can teach me. I’m considering renting a room in a house, which would give me more unsettledness than an apartment lease. Besides, considering the non-credit I have, never having borrowed money or owned a credit card, it’s almost impossible for me to rent a place.

I have way too many things for a simple life, but to simplify my life, I’ll be putting it all in storage. That way I won’t have to be burdened with those things, but will have them whenever I need them.

I do know I will do something. I’ll have to. My mother died at eighty-five and my father at ninety-seven, though there’s no saying whether I will live as long as either one of them did. (My immediately younger brother died nine years ago from brain cancer.) Still, there is a possibility of my living for decades still. I will have to do something during all those years, and whatever that something might be, I’m sure it will be an adventure because life itself is an adventure.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “Grief and a Need for Adventure”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I know that whatever you do Pat, it’ll be great.

  2. Kathy Says:

    The world sure doesn’t make it easy to live the “simple” life, does it? Adventure sounds exciting but you love dancing and you’ve made friends and so there’s nothing wrong should you decide to stay in the area until you feel a clear call to move on. Besides, it’s not so easy to replace the things we enjoy so why not enjoy them for what they are for now? My thoughts today, although as much as I love being back home after being away for a couple of years, I’ve also got one eye on some future adventure. 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’ve pinpointed why I’ll be staying in the area for a while — until June for sure, and maybe much longer. The whole dance experience — learning so many different kinds of dance, going on stage, the costumes, friends, lunches — can never be replaced. Of course, a lot depends on if I can find a place to stay. Mostly, I’m taking it as it comes. If I can’t find a place to stay, maybe I’ll take off on a small adventure, and then see . . . As much as I like the idea of some wild, exciting, life-changing adventure, I’m not really one to just dive into the unknown. I’m more of an “incher,” inching my way slowly. But who knows — when I leave here, things could be completely different.

  3. leesis Says:

    You are about to step into the world of ‘Pat.’. Not Pat and…Jeff, mum and dad… Correct me if I’m wrong but I think its the first time you’ve been ‘Pat.’, since at least the day you met your man. Its scary and you’re older and sadder. But also wiser, perhaps more open than ever before…

    Its scary as crap Pat but step out of that house in whatever direction your spirit decides and be willing to take risks. It might be amazing. Take a walk, (not in the Desert…all that water…crikey!), wherever for however long and see if you like it. And it might be that within a couple of weeks you are telling us of the failure of this idea but that will be exciting too. Or if not start catching buses state to state with a backpack of one other set of clothes, basic hygiene needs, and your wallet and subsist on whatever that wallet offers you a week. Imagine the people you’d meet!!! Or enroll in a Degree (or unit thereof) in philosophy or forensic psychology or counseling or English Literature. Or take up with a clown school or a nursing home volunteering or playing the drums or…whatever it is that rocks your boat Pat .

    And please don’t worry about what others think/feel about your choices. You’ve been compliant to peoples feelings since you were a little girl. Do what you want the way you want…plan don’t plan, walk swim think, bum your way through when you walk out that door finally and see what happens. Gotta be interesting. I like interesting. I got a feeling you do too. 🙂 xx

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re right, I’ve always been compliant to other people’s feelings, even when I was a little girl, which is probably why I haven’t a clue what I want or like. (Except for dancing. That I like.) I know I want interesting. I know I want to feel alive.

      I so much appreciate your encouragement. So many people remind me of dangers. I’m not stupid, I know there are dangers, especially a woman out in the world by herself, but I also know there are dangers in a shuttered room.

      Oddly, except that I so often followed along with Jeff’s wishes (mostly because he cared what we did and I didn’t), I felt most myself when I was with him. It’s hard to be myself now because I don’t know what “myself” is any more. I guess that’s part of the journey.

      Taking risks — that’s the big one for me. I’m a homebody, a quasi hermit, a comfort-lover, somewhat timid (sticking a toe in into adventure instead of just diving in), but who knows what will happen when I leave here. It will be the end of my secure life, that’s for sure!

      • leesis Says:

        Yep, its clear that Jeff led the way because you weren’t too fussed either way. But perhaps thanks to him you are fussed now but without him so you have to be your own leader. I too am…well actually a complete hermit…work and child keeping me having to converse :), but its by choice and nature and something tells me you are in a different spot right now. A spot perhaps that says…hmm what can I do? Go discover my friend. xxx

  4. leesis Says:

    Hey Pat…I was just researching something and I found this and thought of you…
    “After a wonderful sojourn in the wilderness, I remember walking along the streets of a city which had been my home for awhile… On both sides of us as we walked were displayed the things we can buy if we are willing to stay in the orderly lines day after day, year after year. Some of the things are more or less useful, many are utter trash. Some have a claim to beauty, many are garishly ugly. Thousands of things are displayed—and yet, my friends, the most valuable are missing. Freedom is not displayed, nor health, nor happiness, nor peace of mind. To obtain these things, my friends, you too may need to escape from the orderly lines and risk being looked upon disdainfully.”

    Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work In Her Own Words – page 25

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The Peace Pilgrim fascinates me. She left home with only four objects in her possession — a map, a pen, a toothbrush, and comb. The journey was the result of some sort of religious experience and I envy her belief, focus, and agenda. I’m not sure I am capable of the sort of belief it takes to just go walking without anything but the clothes on my back. Don’t have an agenda, either.

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