The topic of exploration has always fascinated me. The idea of experiencing the unknown kind of makes my toes tingle in the same way that being in high places does. Just think about it. An explorer takes all kinds of risks! An explorer needs to be resourceful, brave, prepared, and maybe even a little bit crazy. It must be hard to be prepared when you’re not sure what you’re getting into or what you’ll find. A successful explorer no doubt needs to be able to think on his or her feet, meaning he or she must be able to solve problems. A successful explorer won’t be the kind of person who gets stuck on an escalator and then stands there yelling for help!
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t.”
– Henry Ford
We are all explorers of sorts. We might not all be climbing mountains, flying off into space, or digging up dinosaurs. Many of us are exploring our own abilities. I remember that when my son was taking karate classes, I decided to give it a try myself. I was exploring karate and myself at the same time. I learned about the self defense aspect and the discipline required to focus on the various forms. I learned that I became very nervous each time I tested for a new belt. I learned that I loved the feeling of passing the test and earning the next rank. I made it all the way to brown belt! I’m still proud of that accomplishment. I’ve always tried to find new things to learn and new goals to accomplish. Last year I ran a 7k race and came in third in my division! Running wasn’t anything I ever did. But I became determined to set myself a running goal. My first goal was to run a 5k. Once I accomplished that, I raised my goal and ran a 7k. I can’t even clearly explain how amazing I felt when I crossed the finish line.
Thinking of my own experience with learning and trying new things, I can only imagine the emotions that an explorer feels. There must be moments of uncertainty, fear, and discouragement. There are so many things that could go wrong! An explorer must have a drive to keep going and not give up.
“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.”
– Chinese Proverbs
And if the feeling of accomplishment that an explorer feels is anything like the feeling of accomplishment each of us feels when we succeed at something that was not easy to complete, then I understand why there is still exploration in the world. As I see it, the difference between an explorer and someone like myself is the level of risk and the level of commitment. I explore new skills and new learning, but I don’t take myself to remote areas of the earth for months at a time or put myself in dangerous situations in order to accomplish my goals.
Each student in the class is currently researching an explorer. What are each of you finding out about what it takes to explore the unknown? What kind of person was (or is) your explorer? Do you think that today’s explorers are different from the explorers that left Europe in the 1500’s? Are the reasons for exploring today different than the reasons for exploring back then?
An Assignment for my Students:
A few days ago I read aloud an article about an explorer named John Goddard. He is a remarkable man. When he was 15 years old, he made a list of things he wanted to accomplish in his lifetime. Click on this link (John Goddard ) and watch the video there. The video was made in either 1998 or 1999, but it is worthwhile. Then click on John Goddard’s list of goals. As you are glancing through the list, think of a connection between your explorer and John Goddard. Then make a comment to this post. Explain your connection and tell a bit about your explorer. Please keep in mind the comment guidelines and our new goal of a 3-4 sentence minimum.