February 8, 2012

Survival Tips for Real-Life Adventurers

As a blogger, I can't help but feel responsible for the dear souls who so kindly and graciously follow me here at the Lair. Their choice to do so displays an amazing amount of trust and faith, and it is important to me that I never betray that trust.
I know my followers to be people who share my love of speculative fiction and great adventure stories; I also know that one of the central reasons we love adventure stories so much is because deep down, we all dream of having our own exciting adventures. But adventures are things that come with a large set of risks, many of which can prove deadly, dangerous, or at least grievously inconvenient.
I have done a great deal of research and study into the subject of adventure survival, and I would hate to think anyone was out there having an adventure that I could have helped prepare them for, so I have put together this list of tips and advice that I hope will prove helpful to any of my readers who happen to find themselves involved in a real-life adventure. Don't worry, I'm a professional. Feel free to take notes.

The first and most important thing to remember is that real-life adventures do not come with the happy-ending guarantee most novels include.
Fictional adventures are conducted under the close supervision of a writer, and while all writers possess differing levels of skill, training, experience, and taste in conducting adventures, they also have one thing in common: readers who will be very unhappy with anything less than a satisfactory (i.e. happy) ending. As unhappy readers result in unemployed writers, the motivation to ensure happy endings is strong.
Unfortunately, real-life adventurers do not get the benefit of this little check-and-balance system. That is not to say that real-life adventures never have happy endings, but those endings usually have to come as a result of the adventurer's own hard work and fortitude.

For this reason, some have proposed that the wisest course of action for real-life adventurers is to find a new field of interest or go back to reading novels, and avoid adventure entirely.
That is certainly a reasonable proposal, considering the nature of most adventures. And if you possess a personality marked by practicality, sensibility, and common sense, that may be the course of action best suited to you.

If that is a choice that interests you, here are some tips for avoiding adventure completely:

1. If an old friend who's been missing for years suddenly shows up and says he/she either needs your help or has something to show or tell you and you can't tell anybody about it, throw him out and lock the door. Adventural statistics show that he is 8 times more likely than the average person to have been involved in adventure-related activity during his absence, and, due to the infectious nature of adventure syndrome, he will now want to involve you as well. So throw him out, lock the door, and whatever you do, do not ask questions! If the faintest hint of idle curiosity begins to niggle at the back of your mind, fight it! Adventure syndrome is highly contagious, and the contagion is transmitted most easily via innocent questions.
If you do slip and ask a question or two or - Heaven help you! - three, before you realize what your friend is trying to do to you, it may already be too late and you must be extremely watchful for symptoms of adventure syndrome to begin manifesting themselves. These symptoms include lying awake at night, inability to eat or enjoy prior interests, an increased sense of curiosity over whatever your friend has brought to your attention, feelings of guilt for refusing to help or go along with him, and a sense of impending doom surrounding your continued refusal. If you have indeed been exposed, symptoms will usually present within a week, although in a few rare cases the contagion has been known to lie dormant in the infected person's system for months or even years before manifesting itself, so you would do well to remain watchful and cautious.

2. Avoid making new friends. You can get by with the set you already have just fine, and your risk of contracting adventure syndrome increases exponentially to the number of new friends you meet, making the practice hardly worth the risk. Unfortunately, I know few people who are willing to sacrifice this much, even in the name of self-preservation. So if you are determined to continue making new friends in spite of the risk, all I can do is advise you on making safe choices.
Total strangers are usually safe to befriend, provided they are not:
- an old friend of a friend or relative. Chances are, the friend or relative who introduced you has become wise to the old friend's attempts to infect them with adventure syndrome and they are now trying to get rid of said old friend by pawning them off on you. Note: introductions containing the phrase 'my oldest and dearest friend' are considered especially dangerous, particularly if you have never heard of this oldest and dearest friend before.
- fabulously wealthy. Especially if there is any mystery, rumor, or speculation of any kind surrounding their wealth.
- terribly poor. Abject poverty is a prime breeding ground for heroistic and adventurous traits.
- a pirate. No story, however peaceful and well-ordered, ever maintains that status for long following the entrance or involvement of a pirate.
- remarkably handsome/beautiful. Extraordinary physical beauty is a tell-tale mark of central involvement in an adventure, and the person is probably a highly contagious carrier of adventure syndrome.
- hideously ugly and/or covered with warts. Complete and utter lack of physical beauty is almost as dangerous as the abundance of it. A hideously ugly person is 64% more likely than the average-looking person to possess a deceptively noble and beautiful soul and to be infected with adventure syndrome. Warts increase the chances of them being under some kind of evil curse as well.

3. If you come across a bizarre object in an ordinary location (such as a giant egg in your back yard) or ordinary objects in a bizarre situation (such as a sword sticking out of a rock), walk away immediately and don't come back. And whatever happens, do not touch it! The chances of the items being mundane and harmless is slight compared to the chances of them being highly dangerous and contagious transmitters of adventure syndrome. Avoid the area of their location entirely for as long as possible - preferably forever - to avoid infection. This avoidance may cause some minor inconvenience such as never mowing or setting foot in the back yard again, but these trials are comparatively slight. After all, think of how relaxing and enjoyable it could be to have a wildlife sanctuary in the backyard. And how difficult is it to buy a new clothes line for the front yard, compared to the tribulation of getting involved in an adventure?

Aside from these three major points, there are a few minor things that one should avoid in order to also avoid infection with adventure syndrome:

- attics
- cellars
- dungeons
- secret passages
- items or people found in any of the above locations
- old books written in strange languages
- orphaned baby animals
- anything generally unusual or out of the ordinary
- locked chests, trunks, boxes, and doors
- things inside locked chests, trunks, boxes, and doors
- large, old, mysterious houses
- forbidden wings of large, old, mysterious houses
- people who live in large, old, mysterious houses
- people considered crazy by public consensus
- people
- gypsies
- hermits
- balls, parties, and other social functions

That about sums it up. Put these tips into practice and your risk of contracting adventure syndrome will decrease significantly. Naturally I cannot guarantee your immunity. Adventure syndrome is an aggressive contagion and can strike anyone at any time or place, so it is important to know your risk and adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Common risk factors include frequent daydreaming, voracious reading, a vivid imagination, and the belief that scars are attractive.

On the other hand, if you are not one of the wise and sensible people choosing to avoid adventure, you are being faced with an entirely different set of risks and dangers which must be addressed and discussed. I'll undertake that next time, in Survival Tips for Real-Life Adventurers, Part II.