A starry night in the Southern Provence
A starry. Night. in the Southern. Provence. Let that melt into your cultural taste buds.
A topic most cheesy, no, a sum of terms hypercharged with American idealization, an Eastern Asian definition of European class, and a European perspective of an over-romanticised time and place. Not to mention, that night would be moonless, her perfect stillness only moved by an oh so silky summer night breeze.
Why would you take a narrative to such a worn down position in spacetime?
One semi-honourable reason would be the attempt to write the next holiday bestseller, including a murder without consequences and a wild romance, all through the slightly blurred lens of a constant Rosé buzz.
There is a reason we have collectively loaded this combination of place and time with this much meaning. It seems that a beautiful, individual experience, connected to a certain place, if experienced by many through a matching emotional lense amounts to something potentially destructive. Once, let’s say a thousand people have all experienced a place and shared its beauty with the rest of the world, we collectively start reducing it down to a superficial beauty, as we deduce the small overlap between all these experiences and rob it of its multifacetedness.
A summer-breezy, starry night in Southern Provence can be mesmerizing, after all.
However, to discover its beauty as an outsider, incapable of navigating the depths of Southern French culture, you may have to embrace your chances of a lucky hit. The top 50 attractions on Trip Advisor would not provide you with an experience that feels like your very own adventure.
The term adventure does not refer to breaking into some poor farmer’s sheep den and driving away all his lavender-fed, individually named sheep. However, meeting a Gérard or Françoise happy with a simple carrot, instead of expecting a three course meal, can be refreshing.
An adventure is usually defined in hindsight. Doubtably, anyone ever has uttered - while being in a truly adventurous situation - something around the lines of “Wow, what an adventure I’m experiencing right now.”
An adventure does not need to be defined by adrenalin or heart rate suddenly spiking. When our parents and grandparents tell us of them jumping trains in the Sahara desert or stealing themselves onto container ships to Panama, it surely makes for great stories. However, these are also the stories of people who for the most part, are quite adventure-less in their now civilized lives. Possibly needing to reinvoke the thrill they felt as young, ephemeral beings, they admit to valuing this thrill above their current situation.
For most of us, the adventures of our forefathers are not feasible anymore. We may be blocked by climate change considerations, a limited budget, an all too comfortable childhood, or the daunting idea that even in the backest outback, Instagram and WhatsApp will surely follow.
So how can we find adventure, meaning, gather memories that warm us on cold and boring days and inspire us to strive towards more of this type of warmth?
Above all, adventures need to not fit into our daily grind. While this term usually refers to the grinding we do to ourselves at work, we may also grind ourselves down in our holidays by going to the same family hotel again and again - only to be annoyed by the repetitiveness of the perfect service serving lackluster meals. We can also grind ourselves down doing this one very challenging hike through rain and mud, only to never admit to anyone that we just truly despised that experience.
Why not stop in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, against your urge to just get home to bed, and lean against your car and try to remember more than one constellation? And please, do not pull out your phone and try using that one constellation app you once downloaded to land an easy romance.
Adventures cannot be something somebody else has already done for you.
Your very own feeling of having done this particular thing for the first time creates the sense of adventure. No worries - no need to climb that one mountain that nobody else has climbed in the history of mankind. Just find yourself a place by the road that feels untouched, and dwell there.
This text may have taken your shot at the road-stopping-star-dwelling adventure in Southern Provence, but what about the Italian Alps or the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia? After all, it lies within your own responsibility to allow your imagination to drive you towards your next adventure. Maybe ask yourself: what are your routines, and what would break them without breaking who you like to be?
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