8 Adventure Lessons I Learned From the Tao Te Ching

Let me just start by admitting I’m not especially skilled in the interpretation of esoteric texts. I do, however, find beauty, peacefulness and wisdom throughout such classic texts as the Tao Te Ching.

If you’ve never read or even heard of the Tao Te Ching, start with the basics here. In the meantime, let’s dive right into 8 adventure lessons I learned from this important piece of work.

1. What you want to overcome, you must first of all submit to.

With adventure comes fear. Fear of whitewater. Fear of flying. Fear of heights. Fear of water buffalo.

To me, fear is something you must submit to if you want to move forward. And damn, can it be difficult to overcome at times! Keep pushing on, though.

Fear is important. Harness it properly and your adventures become that much better.

2. If you pour all your energy into one thing, you’re sure to harm the rest of your being.

It’s probably safe to say we work too much. Or spend too much time running errands. Or studying. Or paying bills. Or break dancing. Such is life.

Do yourself a small favor. Save a little bit of that energy for adventure. This passage encourages you to cut loose from time to time. Put your adventure pants on.

3. If you’re not always wanting, you can be at peace.

A true adventurer is not always wanting. Rather, he/she is experiencing what is readily available and offered. Adventure is a thousand times more awesome if you can just live in the moment.

4. If you’re not always trying to be someone, you can be who you really are.

It’s important to just be yourself in life. The same is true when you choose your adventures. Hey, it’s your journey. Don’t let some knucklehead (like me) tell you what you should and should not be pursuing.

Let your adventure heroes inspire you. Don’t let their adventures become an exact blueprint.

5. A great thing done is never perfect—but that doesn’t mean it fails: it does what it is.

So you went for a long trip, had your share of fun, but experienced quite a few setbacks and disappointments? Your trip wasn’t perfect. Bummer, right?

Not really. No trip is perfect. No adventure goes exactly as planned. Oftentimes setbacks are the most memorable part of any adventure.

6. It’s always the person who thinks things are easy that finds them the hardest in the end.

I recently read a blog post about the Inca Trail. In the comments, a first-time hiker shared his experience taking on the longest possible route. He thought it’d be “easy.” Props to him for going for it!

What struck me as odd was the amount of complaining in his comment. In short, he got his ass kicked, and was none too pleased about it. Somebody should’ve told him how difficult it would be, he claimed.

Sheesh. Somebody should’ve told him good adventures are rarely easy! I’d avoid going in with this guy’s attitude.

7. A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

Chances are likely you’ve seen this one used for inspirational purposes on Facebook. I still love it for its simplistic message.

Whatever adventure you’re holding off on for whatever reason, take the first step. Start now.

8. The kind of person who always insists on his way of seeing things can never learn anything from anyone.

This one is especially true if you’ve ever traveled with anyone who won’t stop talking for just one minute to listen to another opinion. It’s frustrating, to say the least. Adventures have been ruined because of it.

OK, I’ll stop acting like some Taoist sage and let you guys share your thoughts.

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15 comments

    1. I have another for you. “She who runs naked with scissors, will one day be asked to join a scrapbooking club.” Yoah. Deeeeep.

  1. Wise words, you guru, you!
    I’m definitely with you on certain attitudes totally bringing down a trip. I actually think it is the most important element in a group trip — to have people who are positive and willing to roll with the punches (’cause there are often many unexpected punches). Hm, think I’ll write a blog post on this … My Camping Buddy Criteria. Thanks for the inspiration, Eric =P

  2. The Tao Te Ching was required reading in a college course on Zen Buddhism I took a few decades ago. It is one of the books I held onto, along with Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

    An excellent post!

    1. Zen Mind sounds like a good one! I’ll have to check it out. Somehow my copy of the Tao Te Ching survived multiple moves over the years. It’s just a great book to occasionally go to for guidance.

    1. True. Very true. It’s possible to bend and contort any bit of wisdom from a classic text to your liking. Love Lolcats? “8 Lolcat Lessons I learned from the Tao Te Ching.” That might be going a little too far. 🙂

  3. Never read the Tao Te Ching, but this makes me want to check it out.
    And excellent thumbnail of it, Eric!

    And for the record, I was NOT scared of the water buffalo.
    Spontaneous cardio in the form of sprinting away as fast as possible is excellent for the heart.
    And the shrieking helps strengthen the lungs.

    1. Dr. Guapo in the house, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it here first. Shrieking and sprinting from water buffalo is good for your health! Ma’am, have you done your shrieking exercises today?

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