While their authenticity as true tales from the Orient is disputed, the seven tales that tell of the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor are among the best-known and best-loved of the stories from the Arabian Nights.
In the tales, the tireless traveler recalls his exotic journeys and amazing encounters, usually involving several cliff-edge experiences and face-to-face encounters with death. Always, by some miracle, the sailor survives to fight another day – or rather to make another voyage, despite acquiring riches that would give him a safe and happy life in Baghdad.
A safe but dull existence isn’t for Sinbad – he needs to be constantly seeking adventure, exploring new lands that he’s heard about, putting to sea, where he feels truly at home. It takes little persuasion for him to make tracks for the port of Basra each time he comes home to Baghdad, looking for a ship that might carry him to new shores.
If the stories of his voyages that he tells are true, then he cannot have been disappointed, despite the many dangers that he faces. Each time he sets off, he must know that he is taking a risk, endangering his life and possibly never seeing his luxurious home and store of gold again.
This is of course the nature of an adventurer – a person who wants to boldly go, to be a pioneer, to live life on the edge. Such people are common in our time. Sir Richard Branson might be one example – a high flyer in many senses, and not wanting for money, but a free spirit and daring adventurer none-the-less. I imagine that he couldn’t dream of passing over the opportunity to be on board the first passenger trip made by his Virgin Galactic spaceship, and this will follow on from daredevil balloon odysseys and trans-Atlantic power boat racing, to name a few.
Exploration and adventure seem to be hard-wired into the human psyche. Many of us are curious beings, always wanting to discover new things, and to go to new places. Certainly, there are those who prefer to stay at home to feather a nest and make ready a home for those who choose to venture far away, but in an age when many of us in the Western world can fly across the globe, there’s no shortage of would-be Sinbads.
The experiences gained through exploring are often invaluable. Explorers may learn much themselves, but they bring back knowledge and ideas to inspire those who stay at home too. We need intrepid adventurers, even if we don’t feel inclined to join their number ourselves.
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