Life’s an Adventure | Hugh Black The Open Door

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Today’s reading was edited and adapted from The Open Door by Hugh Black, published in 1914.

There are some attractive figures who walk through life with the freedom and grace born of high courage. They keep to the end a fresh zest for living, meeting experience with a positive and even joyous air. They seem to be filled with a love of life, and yet are without fear of death. They never seem to lose their sense of adventure, and they meet life as a Knight of chivalry sought danger to prove his courage.

The very precarious tenure by which life is held only seems to be a spur to put them on their mettle. The uncertainty of the future acts as a tonic, nerving them to joyful effort. The first early thrill of wonder at the strange beauty of the world is never deadened. They do not want to shirk all that is coming to them, and they take the hard knocks as smilingly as the successes.

Such daring figures are too rarely seen; for most of us too soon lose the expectant air and forget the early rapture. The light passes too soon into the dull commonplace; and we travel little in the uplands. Our sense of adventure is lost without regret, for we prefer to play it safe.

The precarious tenure of our hold on life is a subject which we do not desire to think of more than we can help. When we are compelled to consider it, we view it with a deep dismay, and are intimidated at the thought of the possible perils and nameless evils that may be met. We feel that the best plan is to move cautiously and avoid all needless risks. It is better to be safe than sorry.

“There is a strong feeling in favor of cowardly and timid proverbs,” says Robert Louis Stevenson, “for most of our pocket wisdom is conceived for the use of mediocre people, to discourage them from ambitious attempts, and generally console them in their mediocrity.”

Stevenson is himself a good illustration of the type who look on life with an adventurous eye. He had little use for what Whitman calls the literature of woe, and just as little for whining at our lot or at our age. He was always ready to say a good word for life, and thought our little poets with their doleful music should be sent to look at the ploughman and learn wisdom.

To take life with full confidence that it is worthwhile, to put the whole weight upon the assumption that it is worthwhile, to try that faith out to its conclusion, is what is meant by the adventure of the Open Door.

There is no map of life with all its continents surveyed, and all its peaks scaled, and all its valleys measured, and all the shoals and depths of its seas sounded. That map will never be made, for it would only be possible if life were static — and then it would not be life. Thus, the true temper in which to meet it is in a spirit of adventure, not as a gamble, but believing in the worth of experience.

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