Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chose your own adventure...

On some days it seems like I could flip a coin and decide to keep on traveling, living like a vagabond and partaking in some of the greatest experiences with amazing people around the world...or I could find a nice place to settle, buy some land, set up a yurt with a garden, have a family, dogs, horses etc. and live a happily rooted existence. There is no doubt in my mind that I could be happy in either scenario and as my climbing partner graciously pointed out to me the other day, before getting on a steeply graded 5.12 climb:

"you don't have to do anything... but it is up to you to chose your own adventure"

I chose to climb, having never been on a climb more difficult than a 5.11 in my one and a half years of climbing experience (the grades start at 5.0 and increase in difficulty, typically up to 5.13 with occasional routes in the 5.14, 5.15, 5.16 grade). The climb, or "adventure" was amazingly challenging, especially with the altitude in Colorado taking a nasty hold on my breath. Somehow I managed to get through it, resting in the ledges and off-width areas after pulling moves that I never imagined my body could do. It was a choice and I'm glad I took it, not giving into fear which often tells us we shouldn't or can't.

The best advice I ever got came early on when I was 7 years old and my dad told me:

"your time is the most valuable thing you've got. Use it wisely and enjoy it while you've got it"

"Wisely" is up for debate as many people would question why someone might give up financial income, job security, material possessions and worst of all move out of an apartment in NYC with cheap rent to pursue teaching yoga in all forms around the world. Despite the fears that come with this lifestyle (usually financial or being left stranded without a place to stay) I can say that the choice to live this nomadic lifestyle of service, devotion and adventure has left me extremely fulfilled.

Every morning I wake up excited for what each day brings and who I might encounter as I travel to new as well as familiar places. Teaching yoga, especially slacklining and AcroYoga, has introduced me to the most amazing people with whom I have shared phenomenal experiences and adventures with in all shapes and forms. And at the end of the day I rest my head knowing that ultimately I love what I do and the life I feel so privileged to live- even when there is sacrifice...and there is sometimes a lot of sacrifice, usually in the financial and relationship department. Regardless of income, I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to have the choice to live this way and be happy. It seems that happiness is the biggest choice we must all learn to make and it occurs independent of excessive wealth, although having some money in the bank can definitely help.

In these moments, when I freak out about finances or where I am supposed to stay in an unfamiliar setting, or what to do after my car is totaled in an accident...I first try to identify the fear in the equation. It's the same fear that popped up when I decided to stop working as a graphic designer full time to teach yoga instead, as it seemed more fulfilling. This fear popped up when I gave away all of my stuff and moved out of my apartment of 7 years and into my car which then got totaled in an accident. This fear plagued me when I decided to move to Japan, a country where I knew no one and commited to teach yoga for 3 months. And this is the same fear that holds me back from trying new things like climbing more difficult grades or surfing bigger waves.

This fear tries to rationalize with me, presenting arguments as to why taking a chance, or an adventure, might not make any sense at all. My mind babbles on and on making up excuses to plead its case of resistance and for many people my choice to go beyond these voices still might not make sense. But in the end I chose to go with my heart as I know that I would rather find out, even if I have to learn the hard way, what could be rather than sit back and wonder what I missed out on. Every time I take fear on, I learn something new about myself, and this to me is living. Opportunities are rare, and regret is a poison that sits in our hearts when we allow something to pass us by.

So for the meantime, or at least until I actually chose to flip a coin and commit to it, I will continue on this path and trust in the process. If health, happiness and the company of good people doing great things continue to bless me on this journey then I will persevere with the belief that I have chosen the right adventure for this point in my life.

And if the time comes to throw down roots, then I will always have the experiences and lessons learned stored inside to remind me that all great adventures begin when we chose to take a chance on something different.

-Adi Carter
Team YogaSlackers
Slacking for a better World


  1. Balancing job and relationship was once posed by this blogger to YogaSlacker Jason Magness:

    I admire your lifestyle greatly, but I am also 1/2 gypsy (on my fathers side).

  2. I like it Adi, you speak to where I am embarking. The comraderie in the seemingly crazy is sweet.

  3. That's beautiful Adi...You inspire me so much! Thank you for riffing so simply & beautifully about feeling fear & confronting it. It's so hard for me to do - even remember to do - on a daily basis but it's a sin qua non for a couragous life, a life we love & full of love for others.

  4. I wish i could have taken your acroyoga class. I am in grand junction for the summer! I am loving acroyoga and slackline and trying to get into it more.

    But i wanted to talk to you about your article. You were explaining a little bit abut the financial hardships of living a life of yoga and climbing and such...i feel the same way except i chickened out and am working towards a career. I would absolutely love to do the things you are-and its so hard for me to accept the possible financial hardships that come with that lifestyle.

    How do you deal with it? I mean for me some of my biggest issues are if i want kids-sending them to school and retirement. I would love to just be a rock climber, slackliner yoga teacher...etc... but its so hard for me to commit to that lifestyle.

    but then i ask myself-adventure or security? Maybe its not that extreme...but weekend warriors are no fun :(

    Thanks for showing me the light!


  5. Hey Alex,

    Thanks so much for your response and sharing your story.

    In no way are you chickening out by working towards a career, especially if it is in something you love. There are many benefits that come with a career and as long as you keep tabs on your priorities (sounds like you love climbing and yoga) a career can help to finance those endeavors.

    It is a fine line between balancing my lifestyle and paying bills. Having sponsors really helps in terms of not spending money on things like clothes, gear and food but it really is a lot of sacrifice- sometimes eating whatever you can find to save money on groceries and riding a bike to avoid paying for gas. I had to put my love for snowboarding on hold as lift tickets got way to expense especially to justify riding the icy conditions on the East Coast.

    Whenever you can- save money and start to look at what you are spending it on and if you really need it. You might surprise yourself and save a ton of money in a year allowing you to dirtbag it and go climbing for several months (provided your job allows you to). I personally try to keep some money in the bank because I don't want to run up credit card debt so when my savings run low I try to really stay grounded and work as much as possible until I can replenish it.

    But it is always an ebb and flow and some days seem really great and like everything is amazing and then there are some days when I do the math and it seems impossible to sustain this lifestyle...regardless, we all progress forward. But if the happiness factor remains then it is worth persevering.

    Hope this helps and keep doing great things that make you happy.