Spontaneous adventures is how I roll. It’s been that way since the age of 18, when I headed off to New Zealand and Australia for a year, with just an NZ work visa and £600. And some clothes, obv. This bug of spontaneous adventure was in my bones for years before that, but this was the first time I properly chose it for myself. Needless to say, since then I have found myself in the coolest situations and on the most hilarious/amazing adventures, or just with a lush collection of new friends. All from talking to strangers.
This is still one of my favourite ways to pass the time. It has to be said it is ‘easier’ to do this, and the adventuring, whilst travelling because most of the other folk around you are doing it too. It’s kinda the done thing. But I’m a big believer of there being no reason why this travelling habit can’t continue on home turf.
Recently though, spontaneous adventures have felt scarce. A nugget of my being has felt neglected. There’s the odd random convo with a friendly shopkeeper, or a lovely interaction or road trip with a friend of a friend, but I have been missing the freedom and variety that comes from random encounters with friendly strangers. And it’s all been because of that fucking thing called Fear. What a knob.
Yesterday, however, this nugget of need was well and truly filled, and the fear was punched directly in the face. A little while back, my super cool Swiss housemate – who moved out a month ago – introduced me to the super cool sport of Slacklining. Something I have always longed to give a go. When her and her slack line moved out, I figured I needed to find another super cool bunch to do this with, as I wasn’t up for looking like a tit on my own. Walking between two trees on a baggy bit of fabric in a local park – and falling on your arse a lot – is definitely cooler when you have friends to laugh at you too.
I joined a Facebook group for people slacklining in the area, where they announce who’s going where and when with their Slacks (if that’s what they call them). Being British spring, the weather’s been dodgy and so there hasn’t been much activity. Plus, that fucker Fear has been up in my face so I passed on any opportunity.
Yesterday though, they were down the road so I was 100% headed out that door to go find them. Only trouble was, in my beautifully time managed ways, I was two hours delayed in seeing the post. But I figured I’d head up there anyways. The Fear was dancing around in my face but I was so damn excited that I just stomped on through it and up the hill. It was the first time in a long time I had felt like myself, so I was not going to let that dancing fucker get in the way.
Y’know, a big part of this fear is purely the worry that I’m ‘weird’ because I love random adventures and have this ability to just make friends with anyone, anywhere, anytime and always – literally, always – end up doing something fun. The amount of times friends hear random stories of my interactions with random people I’ve just met on the street or in a park, is hilarious. And something I am known for. But for some reason I have become conscious of this talent of mine and decided maybe it’s weird. Not because of anything anyone has ever said, purely because of my overactive and noisy inner critic. What a knob he is too.
I cannot tell you how big my grin was when I realised I was headed there regardless of whether I was weird or not (we’re all bloody weird anyway), and I even had the thought that perhaps this skill of mine makes me cool, not weird, running round in my head. It doesn’t matter what it makes me, it just matters that it’s part of me, that’s all.
I saw a little group of people slacklining and so I figured it was them. I’d made a bartered arrangement with my Fear and decided that I could just walk to the park and turn around again, and do it properly next time, if it felt like too much. Baby steps, right? That’s what the anxiety pro’s say. Well, fuck baby steps. When I got there I couldn’t turn around it was just too exciting. I felt like I was Me.
Turns out they weren’t the folk from the Facebook group – they are a lovely bunch of French folk instead! There was potential for a big awkward moment when I found this out, where I could have moonwalked backwards out of sight, but instead we kept chatting. They were so lovely and so we spent the next three hours slacklining and playing frisbee, and laughing at each other making tits of ourselves. And championing each other as we got better and better.
There was another opportunity for a big awkward moment when I announced that I wanted to be able to bounce in the middle of the slackline – like the pro’s do – but after two seconds of trying, I catapulted directly backwards and landed arse first on the laps of three guys watching. Literally.
I was so rusty at frisbee I threw it off target by approximately 1,379 metres every single time, and hit most of the trees in the park, or narrowly missed dog walkers, rather than getting it into the hands of the other people. There was lots more laughter, jogging around after it, and vast quantities of apologising.
I walked home with tired feet and a happy soul. And a sore arse.
It was so worth it.
Disclaimer: choose your stranger wisely. You don’t have to talk to every single one (you wouldn’t get anywhere for starters. Plus, some people are more game for spontaneity, or conversations, than other). Pick the one/s you feel drawn to. You’ll know the one. I do not hold responsibility for any stranger you do talk to who isn’t up for going on an adventure with you or sharing their slackline. (Their loss). Just try the next one.