BY BOAT. BY FOOT. BY WIND. BY LAND. BY CHANCE.
Safari is a way of life, and it has nothing to do with dry earth, exotic animals, and khaki clothing. Adventure is a state of mind, not a checklist of gear or a tick list of accomplishments.
Siddhartha. Howard Rork. Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi). H.W. Tillman. Jack Kerouac. JBS Halding. Jane Goodall. Jaque Cousteau. Blair Orr. Those are the heroes that possessed the adventurous spirit and curious spark that helped turn an otherwise average day on a horse ranch in Alberta, Canada where I grew up into a bonafide excursion worthy of memories and precious mind space.
As long as I can remember, I recall an intense drive to make my moments count. To what degree was always the question I posed to myself. My aim was to explore for the sake of it and to do as much as possible outside – to press onward and to discover physical locales as well as divine moments of great clarity that come with the process of not knowing what exists around the bend, but seeking it out anyhow and overcoming any obstacles or embracing any surprises along the way. There is something unusually comforting about uncertainty and challenging yourself to push beyond it, to prime yourself for the unexpected. That mentality is as much a part of me as the hairs on my thinning (sigh) head. While, I’m sure that adventurous spirit may have caused more than a few headaches for my parents and friends while growing up, it has evolved into a reliable, internal navigation system of sorts that has led me to a number of fascinating locations, learning experiences and states of mind, many of which I will highlight in this blog in one form or another.
Soon after I turned 18, the international exploits began. I ventured to the southern hemisphere bound for Australia. There, on the west coast, I served as a outdoor adventure guide coaching tourists on the fundamentals of repelling, rock climbing, hiking, caving, and spelunking. After six months, I hitchhiked to the north end of the Great Barrier Reef where I lived like a gypsy on the beach, and I worked on a tour boat. Surrounded by one of the most awe inspiring reefs on the planet, I got a BIG itch to explore more ocean biodiversity. My basic scuba skills evolved into a Master’s level scuba diving license, beginning a lifelong love affair with the sea and underwater research and exploration. After nine months in the Outback, I returned to Canada to attend university in Edmonton, but the magnetic pull of my passport proved too strong as I set out again in search of a less predictable routine in Asia. I spent months hitchhiking and taking the train from village to village in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, sleeping on the ground in huts on stilts, eventually settling with the people of the Karon village in Northeast Thailand. There, I taught farmers how to make and use more efficient tools and served as the town medical practitioner in absence of a village physician. I taught the villagers basic first aid, helped build a clean water well, and assisted with the development of a new hospital.
My journeys have afforded me the opportunity to meet some remarkable people and to have some ridiculously enriching and utterly enlightening experiences. When you travel, you realize how much you have to be grateful for “back home,” and just how much others may be lacking. And, in some cases, you realize, everything you need, nature has already provided. Regardless of the lesson that accompanies a particular latitude or longitude, I try to embrace travel as an opportunity to tip the scale in the favor of the “Givers” (read Ishmael if you haven’t already). Whether traveling by foot, by boat, by land, by air, or by chance, I aim to help whenever there’s a chance to improve the likelihood that others will have the opportunity to experience the luxury of leisure and recreation, which is unattainable (and in most cases unnecessary) if basic physical, emotional and educational needs aren’t met first. So, in many cases, many of the trips I plan to highlight in this blog will align with academic as well as altruistic endeavors in one fashion or another.
If you have time in between your own adventures (small or great) and your philanthropic missions, I invite you along for the trip. I hope the stories that I will share will provide some level of greater understanding about various locales, activities or cultures, or perhaps it will provide a sliver of inspiration that may help you make your own moments count as much as your inner adventurist seeks.
After all, there are only 86,400 seconds in a day. What do you plan to do with them? Tick tock.