I watch the news almost every evening with my Pápá. I wouldn’t ordinarily watch any news at all; “I can gather all the news I need on the weather report” (Simon and Garfunkel). And it only takes about 10 minutes of watching to feel like “all the news just repeats itself/ like some forgotten dream/ that we’ve both seen…” (John Prine). But it’s good for me to see all the stuff happening in the world. I don’t have my head in the sand. I realize what I’m doing and asking of society amongst everything that’s happening: the plague, the unrest, the unprecedented-ness. The question is: Why take on something that’s never been done at a time like this? When people are dying, when the economy is riddled with the virus, when people are at odds with each other, ego is rampant, and daily life is in ruins?
I think that this expedition couldn’t have come at a better time, and there was a reason that my adventuring has brought me to this point at this time. Yes, because of the state of the economy, it won’t be easier for me to obtain funding – but not impossible. Besides, this expedition is not just for me anyway. I think that this journey is happening at this time for a reason. If unprecedented things are happening, then it’s a perfect time for an unprecedented thing to be undertaken. We are at the cusp of the Technology Era – it’s as important as living during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. I’m grateful that I landed here in 2021 in my mid-twenties – my life is ahead of me during a time of radical change and growth. The first tremors of the Age of Aquarius are being felt throughout all of humanity as we leave Pisces behind and forge a new path ahead – it’s up to us how we proceed: Do we learn and grow, or do we self-destruct?
There’s very little left on this Earth to physically explore. We’ve mapped everything. There are no new land masses to “discover,” no oceans that haven’t already been crossed and recrossed, every mountain has been climbed and every trench probed. We’ve walked on the moon, catalogued our solar system, peered into the expanse of space. There’s no such thing as an “explorer” anymore – not like there used to be. The ones who call themselves “explorers” now (as I do at times) are really “expeditionists.” If we had been born in the past, we would have been explorers. Now, we’re just travellers, still haunted by the spirit of adventure despite having maps of everywhere we’re going.
There is one more thing left to explore, though – something we’ve always had, and something we as a collective whole desperately need to understand – our souls. We hold the expanse of the Universe in our hearts, for it is where we came from and where we are destined to always return. Anyone, anywhere, and at any time can discover the soul – but I have found that completely immersed in nature is where the cries of the spirit are the loudest, and where the voice of the Universe can be most readily heard. I am not alone in this philosophy, and am certainly not the first to experience its effects.
Additionally, when the body has been pushed to its limits, the mind follows. Only in experiencing the extremes can one find the edge. Venturing out into the static sound of the sea alone in a human-powered vessel is the best way I can think of to explore the soul. The Rivers – the Missouri, the Mississippi – have been a journey in learning and growth. They were my training ground, where I first stepped foot outside the noise of society and found a world that danced to a much different and ancient rhythm. There’s no reason why we can’t somehow combine the pace of society with the beat of nature – we are, after all, all one in the same thing. We just need the knowledge. We just need to explore, and learn.
Everything I’ve said has already been said, over and over for thousands of years. But maybe because I said it, someone will hear it for the first time. Maybe something I do will inspire someone to do something else. Society is made of people, so in order to change society, you just have to change people. Changing one person, helping one person, can lead to another good change, which leads to another. It is not up to me to change society – It is up to me to live my life, and it is my duty and obligation as a member of humanity to tell my fellow humans what I find on my path.
There is a reason I have lived the life I have lived, and was given the ability to be able to write about it. There is a reason you are reading this. There is a reason for everything. Anyone can change the world – you just have to extend kindness to one person, get someone to look at something with a little extra love and the revelation of unity – and you have changed the world.
Pápá brings me stuff he’s reading sometimes – annotated with his underlinings. He says, “I thought you might like to read this…” and half the time he already brought that article to me but I pretend to read it again. He brought me a magazine called The Week and showed me an article about UFOs and aliens. He had underlined the end of the article, which read: “If extraterrestrials really are visiting us, said Glenn Harlan Reynolds in USAToday.com, this year would be ‘the perfect year’ to find out. After the pandemic, the murder hornets, and other bizzare events, humanity is finally ‘psychologically ready to handle alien contact.’ In 2020, an alien invasion ‘just feels right, somehow.’”
I would say that right now, a human doing the first circumnavigation of the Earth by rowboat…“just feels right, somehow.”
Here’s to 2021 – I’m here for it.
“As long as there are human beings on the face of the earth, there will be adventurers. There are few among us. It is hard to break the chains of conventional life to pursue the unknown, to risk life itself to find a sense of peace and harmony with the natural world. It is best left to those few, for death is an all too real possibility when a man pits himself against the forces of nature. Yet we all owe a deep debt to the brave-hearted men and women who undertake the seemingly impossible, whether it is here on our brilliant blue planet or in the dark reaches of outer space. These are the truest of us, the ones unafraid to cast off the mundane and safe for the thrill of pushing the limits of human endurance, emotion, and powers of intellect. They are the heroes we can all admire, for they do it not for money or fame as much as for the noble quest that we all share and aspire to in our attempts to lead lives that bring out the best qualities of humanity while leaving the detritus behind in our wake.”
–Daring the Sea, David Shaw (emphasis added)