Virgin Territory

6040555286 abbbec9802 Virgin Territory
cc Virgin Territory photo credit: JessyeAnne

I’m headed to Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (WDS) tomorrow, and honestly, I’m not sure what to expect. I’m going alone, and although I tangentially know some of the people who will be there, it’s starting out at least as a solo journey. Yet the mix of trepidation, anticipation and mystery I sense feels all too familiar to me as a seasoned traveler. It’s the same presentiment that always arises before a move into virgin territory.

That’s the thing about virgin territory – there’s an open-endedness, a blank slate quality, even an obscurity to it that disables you from seeing beyond but is exhilarating and provocative all the same, irresistibly luring you forward.

(By way of background, I’m attending the event this year because I considered Chris’ inaugural WDS last year, couldn’t make up my mind, and in the end missed my chance when it sold out. Regretting my decision, I knew I’d not repeat that mistake in 2012.)

Two nagging questions always arise before exploring virgin territory, and this time is no exception: 1) Will I be back? and 2) How will I be back?

That’s an oversimplified way of expressing my mind’s natural fear and curiosity over several things:

a) Whether or not I will literally return. Truth be told, I don’t take this too seriously – past experience seems to indicate a high likelihood of returning from most adventures short of say, scaling Mount Everest. And I’m not adventuring in Everest-leagues. Yet.

b) Whether or not I’ll want to return. This one’s weightier as I inevitably ponder how I might change such that I won’t want to come back to something that was my reality prior to leaving, OR be so drawn to the new territory that breaking away from it seems more painful than staying.

c) How I’ll be when I return. This question easily trumps the other two, for I haven’t made a journey yet that hasn’t involved a transformation, whether subtle or significant, so I know to expect it. How will I be different, and how will that affect everything yet to come?

To a true adventurer, virgin territory is seductive. I crave it, devour it, and savor it when I find it. Like finally making it to the Back Bowls of Vail Mountain this year (and almost over to Blue Sky Basin – which feels like skiing not at a world class resort, but in the wilds of the Colorado Rockies). Like windsurfing Pamlico sound off the shore of Waves, an obscurely small town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few weeks ago. Like skydiving, wave-running, trail hiking the desert, or horseback-riding through the Andes, anything can happen in virgin territory.

Often, though, nothing extraordinary happens on the outside. Usually, however, everything extraordinary happens on the inside.

When it comes to leaving our comfort zones for a journey into virgin territory, we’re all different and we all, I believe, have our sticking points. I’m the type to leap rather than ease my way out of my comfort zone, but only when it comes to physical feats. Not so emotional, where I desire and require considerable grace. Others are exactly the opposite, but we all have our challenges whether in the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual realms of virgin territory.

Knowing which of those four realms is easy for you to enter, and which is more difficult can be incredibly useful because when you leap in one, you also journey in the other three.

(Which – speaking of things virgin – reminds me of Richard Branson, perhaps the best living example of someone whose entire life has been one long ongoing venture into virgin territory (pardon the obvious puns) and who shows no signs of stopping. Having recently finished reading Losing My Virginity, Branson’s autobiography, I can tell you it’s remarkable how little any of us leave our comfort zones compared to that man. I digress, but if you need a little push into new territory, read that book. It’ll do the job nicely.)

So tell me – when was the last time you ventured into virgin territory and how did it happen? what did you find there? and what resulted on the other side?

Until next week, wish me well as I scale not a Himalayan summit, but this World Domination Summit, and ponder who I’ll meet, what I’ll learn, and how I’ll find myself upon return.