Claiming epic

Did I say that I wanted to do something that tested my courage? Something that made my stomach squirm and my heart race?

Why, yes, I did say that to myself. In fact, I say it to myself rather often.

So this morning I did a thing that I’ve been putting on my weekly to do list for a about a month and a half now: I sent a tender, vulnerable piece of writing to a group of beta readers to ask their input so I can get it polished for posting on this blog.

That took courage.

As we’ve been watching the Olympics – those folks who have put their lives into going big, into chasing a dream, into putting all of themselves on the line – I’ve been having a thought:

What is my epic thing?

What is the thing that I put myself into that requries taking risks, requires exposure, is based in uncertainty and fueled by a hope, a vision, an image of what could be?

And then this question: do we all need an epic thing?

One of the aspects of growing into adulthood has been the recognition that while we are all similiar, we do not think, feel and imagine in the same ways. The folks I am closest to in my life do not, in fact, think the way I do. They don’t approach life the same. They don’t focus on the things I focus on. Their mental gymnastics are not comprised of the same elements and routines as mine.

So I have to wonder if questing after some epic achievement is something that most people think about.

And what is epic, anyway? Much as I have asked myself questions about how adventure is different for each of us, this holds the same kind of infinite variation. Going on an adventure is specific to each one of us. Aiming for something epic is the same. While it’s easy to compare my adventure to another person’s, this isn’t about comparison. How many miles in how few days does not make my adventure more or less of an adventure if I lay it next to a friend’s trip. What makes it an adventure is that it sent my heart racing, my mind whirling with possibilities, my body tingling with the physical sensations of living that thing.

I’d like to think that we can all reach for something epic in the same way. If going on an overnight backpacking trip feels like a wild, barely attainable achievement to you, then you get to call that trip epic. If it’s posting an expository piece to my blog, that’s my epic.

The claiming of epic achievements and the undertaking of adventure is really just a way to name the important moments in our lives. Yes, my life is full of adventure. Yes, it’s epic. It’s epic and adventurous because I like to strive for new things, I like to send my heart pounding. I’m claiming my epic.