Living Adventure: An Outdoor Guide Narrative


  • Patrick Lewis Oklahoma State University


Accepted and discovered life themes are two ways of making sense of one's life and ascribing purpose (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Accepted life themes are written by others and represent pursuits of ‘ought' and ‘should'. When accepting a life theme one becomes a character in another's story (Clawson & Newburg, 2009) and fails to inform personal vitality (Waterman, Schwartz & Conti, 2008). Conversely, a discovered life theme involves writing a unique life narrative from the inside out (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). While these discovered themes “may be regarded by others as crazy or destructive†(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, p. 231) they can provide positive purpose and inform personal vitality (Waterman, Schwartz & Conti, 2008). Ryff and Singer (1998) add, “it is individuals with positive purpose who are likely to sustain practices of taking care of themselves as well as maintaining investments in meaningful life pursuits†(p. 22). The purpose of this study was to explore the discovered life theme of outdoor guides. More specifically, I wanted to understand the role of adventure in the lives of outdoor guides and how guides incorporate adventure to build meaning filled lives.