Children dream of adventure. Start with a tricycle, then a two-wheeler with training wheels then zoom! First they want to cross the street alone, then they want to walk to a destination. Eventually adventure means stories, from fairy tales to novels to epic sagas of obstacles overcome and golden goals met and won.
It doesn’t stop. Teenagers want to drive and drink and screw and not be in school. They get a little older, and they want an exciting job and not to be in college. After that, it’s any job that pays well. Then, later, a job they don’t hate.
See? We’ve crested the hill and now we’re on the downside. We still want adventure, maybe never more so. Our idea of it changes proportionately. Now adventure can be as simple as paying off a credit card or going to a new Starbucks. Pathetic? Maybe. But we’re older now. We’re out of school. Driving is a necessity, and opportunities for both drinking and screwing aren’t the variables they once were.
What we’re left with is perspective. Stories about valiant heroes battling dragons became novels about valiant individuals battling their inner demons. It’s still wish fulfillment, but the bigger we get the smaller and more meaningful our wishes become.
Think about it. You still crave adventure, we all do. But without a cyclone and a yellow brick road to guide us to it, adventure isn’t easy to come by in the real world. Oh, it happens. Metaphor aside, there are very real monsters out there as much as there are very real heroes. And, to pick up that metaphor again, it’s up to us to slay our own dragons.