Over the last week I’ve been reading a new book titled The Push: Overcoming Obstacles to Adventure. It was also my birthday, which was a nice opportunity to reflect on what I’ve been doing with my thirty-plus years on this planet. The combination was almost serendipitous.
So what is The Push? It’s a book about adventure, or rather barriers to adventure. The excuses we all make for not doing the awesome things we really want to do with our lives. It’s about recognising these barriers, overcoming them and getting on with ticking off items on your bucket list.
The Push is a short, easy read. It’s also pretty raw – if you’re looking for perfect grammar and sentence structure, this may not be the book for you. But there is more to life than grammar and spelling (whatever your English teacher said). Think of The Push not so much as a book, but as a chat with a friend in the pub. A friend who shares your hopes and dreams. A friend who sweeps away all your ‘buts’ with the biggest ‘but’ of them all: but what if you don’t do it?
I met Andy Madeley, the author of The Push, last weekend when he came to stay with his fiancée (a friend of mine). We went for a bitterly cold walk in the Yorkshire Dales, drank wine and talked of adventure, opportunities and of what we really wanted out of life.
And that is really the crux message of this book: what do you really want out of life?
If what you want is to have a house, a 40-hour a week job and a comfortable family life then that is totally fine. (But maybe don’t put this book on your reading list.) If there’s something inside of you saying that there must be more than this; if you have a hidden dream of exploration and adventure, of quitting the day job to try something completely new, then this book is for you.
As I read the Push, I reflected on where life has taken me and spotted a line in the metaphorical sands of time. Between the ages of 17 and 22 I traveled to India, camped on a glacier in Iceland, climbed previously unclimbed mountains in Greenland and summited Kilimanjaro. These may not be world firsts (well apart from the new routes in Greenland), but they were adventures.
And then something changed. I left university and got a series of ‘proper’ jobs. I still traveled, still climbed and occasionally took part in crazy mountain marathons. But these had to be squeezed into weekends and one or two-week holidays. And somewhere along the way the tents were replaced with holiday cottages, the weekend mountain marathons with long runs and cooking over a stove with restaurant meals.
Life got cosy.
But there is a part of me, deep inside, that still yearns for adventure. She’s the child in me, who loves to play and never wants to grow up. She is excited (and yet secretly scared) about new experiences.
I feel her in the wind on my cheeks and the rain that soaks my hair. I feel her in the harsh pain of my lungs screaming for air as I struggle to run up the hill. And most of all I feel her on the top of the mountain, reminding me that there are more adventures to be had.
The Push is a book about big, life-changing adventures. But the principles can be applied to an adventure or life-change of any scale.
Everyone has something they dream of doing.
Something that will push them a little bit out of their comfort zone. Something they are secretly scared of, or perhaps worry that others will judge them for. The Push addresses all of these fears; all the barriers you will need to face and overcome. And the rewards of doing so.
Perhaps the most common barrier relates to the immediacy – the ‘now’. There is always some reason why ‘now’ is not the perfect time. This applies to many things in life and quite frankly if people waited for the ‘perfect’ time for everything there would be far fewer children, homeowners, and happy workers in the world. So if you can throw away the concept of perfect timing to have a child or move into your dream home, why not consider adventure in the same way?
As I cross another birthday boundary, this is my main takeaway from The Push: the time to face these barriers and realise these dreams – to consider them as real possibilities – is now. It is time to draw another line in the sand.
Of everything in The Push, there is one quote that I keep coming back to, made more poignant through losing two friends earlier this year:
We only have one life. What are you going to do with it?
The Push is available on Amazon – 50 percent of profits are donated to War Child. You can find out more about Andy and what he’s up to on his blog: andymadeley.com. And no, he didn’t ask me to write this.