The title says everything and also very little at the same time. It is a broad statement that people can interpret as they wish. For some, exploration is done in an armchair with a favorite book or TV remote. Others learn about themselves and the world through charity work in their community. A smaller number learn by, as I have long called it, exercising their passport. These examples and every possible adventure in between is still exploration; it is learning and exploring the world that is important. The what or why of one's exploration are just as varied and are often very personal.
I have mentioned previously that my love of exploration is because of my parents. Not only did they subscribe to National Geographic magazine for many years they took my brother and I to museums, local cultural festivals and on trips to other parts of the country. The thrill of seeing a place for first time burns not just the sight but the sounds, the smells and other details of the location into my memory.
Humans have always been explorers. How else did the Vikings find North America in the early 11th century? Or find the excellent moral mushroom patch outside a small park in NW Iowa one early June day? Even our TV fiction frequently portrays explorers. How many of you already know Dora? Or Dr Henry Walton Jones?
I recently was introduced to an online book, Exhilarating Freedom in the Andes, by Chris Goulet. The book is a worthy read in itself as it documents his travels in the Andes by bike.
One chapter is titled The Explorer-Adventurers, his reflections on explorer adventures both old and new. After I read it his thoughts really resonated with me. I would of liked to be the author of such a piece of prose but I am not. Glad I am to have read it and to share it with others. Remember to get out and explore the world, you will be better for it.
The Explorer-Adventurers by Chris Goulet
We have an insatiable thirst to experience the world firsthand.
We derive intense satisfaction in challenging difficult, insecure and uncomfortable environments.
We take the time to observe and absorb, because we are not racing. We are not competing with anyone but ourselves.
Our encounters with vastly different environments, lifestyles, and beliefs profoundly expand our interest and awareness of the world.
Witnessing meager standards of living forever changes our perception of the western preoccupation with striving for material wealth.
When we return home, we feel delighted at regaining the little pleasures that have been denied to us in faraway lands.
We have frequent flashbacks of our expeditions and take pleasure in telling others our experiences.
We become tolerant of petty annoyances or discomforts and become patient in our projects.
But the ceasing of discovery and strong sensations precipitate in us a long emotional slump.
Sensations we once held to be exciting become less so.
Is it worth it? Like they say, "It's better to have loved (traveled) and lost (come home) than never to have loved at all."
Once we have eaten from the tree of knowledge, we cannot go back to ignorance.
While on expeditions, our attention is intensely focused and nothing else matters, but back home it is difficult to concentrate on what we are doing.
Our successes strongly reinforce our self-esteem. We can do anything, but we find we don't really want to do anything but explore.
We dream of more adventures, and when preoccupation turns to obsession, we are bound to realize them.
We are fascinated with the stories of other explorers and we plan our expeditions to avoid their misfortunes.
Are we escaping from something or have we been unfortunate with normal life? The true weight of these factors lies hidden from us.
What do we search for? We don't really know, until we find it.
Ultimately, we explore to find ourselves.
Our passion for adventure continues…