Adventure – Amusing reflections
Posted on June 3rd, 2019

Laksiri Warnakula

Attempts to conquer heights, be it a mountain or any other carry their own perils and risks. Generally, glory and peril walk side by side in such endeavors, until the former or the latter wins, in the end”.

Already eleven or twelve climbers have perished on the slopes of the Mount Everest, in this year alone and that is only so far. This sad news made me ponder on ‘the diverse nature of adventure and that craving for a bit of it present in almost every human being and the question how much or less of it in each one of us is there, longing for those quests, some of which are unbelievably dangerous?’

Now at one end of the scale are the minimal risk takers with hardly any love for or sense of adventure at all, who cannot even be persuaded to climb anything higher than an anthill or dare venture out further than to a depth around knee level in any water body, be it a pool, a lake, a river or even the mighty ocean. They live lives governed by the principle that as long as you keep away from everything that has even the slightest chance of going wrong, you are safe. However, the question is can you find such absolute and guaranteed safety in this world of ours, where your safety depends as much on numerous external factors that are beyond your control?

Yet our minimal risk takers don’t get deterred or disturbed by such arguments. They would as best as they can try to avoid anything and everything that they think may put them in danger. And they are also firm believers in superstition so much so that they will truly think that the little house gecko, who is going after a mosquito on a wall suddenly abandons its stalking and decides to come up with its usual chattering call ‘chuck, chuck, chuck’, is actually telling them that it’s a foreboding. And one of them might even hurriedly start looking for that handbook of ‘Huunu Sasthare’, if it happens to be at his/her home. Or what about that innocuous looking black cat that happens to be crossing the same patch of the road that our superstitious friend is walking along? Would his casual thoughts as regards it be limited in extent to ‘oh a poor stray cat on the prowl’: I doubt it.

Now at the other end of the scale are sitting the exact opposite, who enjoy risk-taking and relish it, going for adventures of all sorts, mostly very dangerous and doing it for the sake of glory, sheer thrill, sense of achievement and so on and so forth.  

And apart from those extremely challenging and dangerous adventures such as mountain-climbing, there are other equally dangerous and at the same time immensely foolish ones too that some of our friends at the other extreme end of the scale tend to go for. To keep it short, I will site only a couple here. But then before going any further; ‘isn’t there a degree of foolishness attached to all extreme types of adventure and sport, anyway?’

Poking one’s head into the cavernous mouth lined with razor-sharp, sawtooth-like dental armour of a fifteen-foot alligator is one, for example. This present-day descendant of the dinosaurs that roamed the earth millions of years ago, is said to have only a tiny brain even after all those eons that have passed by, and it’s more like a chancy game of Russian roulette, when or whether the creature decides to shut its snout with a human neck inside it for chewing at leisure. 

And then we have some, who, adequately emboldened by alcohol and apparently empowered by those ‘Ali manthara’ dare challenge a wild elephant that is peacefully chomping away on a leafy branch in a patch of jungle. In spite of being called gentle giants and quite correctly so, they too like us the humans don’t take it lightly, when someone tries to invade their personal space. And unfortunately, those who dared to do so, didn’t live to tell the rest of the tale, as far as I know. 

Now, this particular form of adventure could be more or less limited and quite unique to, Sri Lanka only.  And then I am not sure whether this kind of sheer stupidity should be called an adventure at all, other than that it is plain suicide. However, according to the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ an adventure is; ‘An unusual and exciting or daring experience, Excitement associated with danger or taking of risks, A reckless or potentially hazardous action or enterprise’ etc. So, it, nevertheless, is adventure too, of some kind.

Anyway, engaging in true adventure is no doubt challenging and once accomplished, can be very exhilarating too. To the person, who wins in the end beating all odds, I am sure it brings a great sense of achievement and fulfillment, a magical sensation of unburdening a weight that he/she had carried so long.

And before I leave, must I say for myself that I am somewhere in the middle of that scale or should I honestly admit that actually it is now far more to the left than to the right? Yes. Years have taken their toll and they did teach me a few lessons too!

Now this brief article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of a very special kind of an adventure, which is the political adventure. And particularly, in our land like no other, it is one adventure that still guarantees a victory in the end, if not glory. Isn’t a hefty pension after just five years of idling in Diyawanna environs along with ample real estate and other forms of wealth acquired and accumulated during that state-paid vacation, enough, whether one wins or loses, at the end of one’s adventurous tenure, so to speak? 

Laksiri Warnakula

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