The Moon, or Why We Need More Hikers, Roamers, and Explorers!
These days I am constantly asked – Why? Why give up your career? Why sell your house to fund a trip talking about birds? Why donate most of your possessions just to go hiking on Canada’s Great Trail? To which my first answer is – that I was born to wander, born to teach, and am driven to explore and be in nature. Some people get this, some don’t. I don’t apologize for who I am and my love of nature and wild spaces.
None of these are odd goals, in fact, did you know that not long ago people use to go to parties to celebrate scientific discoveries, when ships arrived in the harbour people would line up to see what amazing items were unloaded, later they would wait for the mail to arrive to see what the new National Geographic magazine would tell them about the world, and they watched the television while humanity – time after time – did the impossible! Yet today so many of us have the sense that ‘everything is known’, that ‘the experts will take care of it’, that ‘it can be Googled’, or that ‘the world is too dangerous to go to this place or that place’. But – almost none of that is true. In fact there are new species being discovered every year, new explorations of the earth being undertaken regularly, and new innovations made all the time!
Fewer people have completed Canada’s Great Trail than have gone to the moon. That is how amazing this achievement is. Check out people like Dana Meise, Sarah Jackson, Diane Whelan and Mel Vogel – these are inspire and intrepid individuals! Everything they have done on the trail will amaze you! Even the spectrum and diversity of individuals on the trail is amazing….all from different parts of the country and the world, with different heritages, different backgrounds, different beliefs….it’s pretty amazing. Actually it’s more than that…. it’s downright awesome! It’s one of those things that make you grateful to be Canadian! To be able to hike across a country so vast with so many different peoples, cultures, geographies, and biological niches – safely and continually discover new things and make new connections between people, communities, and the environment is beyond description!
When you look at something like the vastness of Canada’s Great Trail, it reminds you that despite the sense that everything is known, that the answers to everything are on Wikipedia, or that the world is an inherently dangerous place (so stay inside), that in fact there are tons of things yet to discover, that need exploration, that require investigation, and that are yet to be done.
So for those interested in exploration, driven by curiosity, propelled by inquiry and for those with a pension for science or math – I would challenge you to shoot for the challenges that few out there have done. Regardless of what you might think about the world and nature, so much out there has yet to be discovered and learned. You might just be the first person to find that new species, or name that mountain, or unearth the untold part of our history!
If I have learned anything in this past year – it is that no matter how big your idea might sound to some – there are others in the world that not only want to do the same thing, but that can help you and support you! Once you put your ideas into the world you will be amazed by the amount of understanding, advice, and support you will receive. (There are entire organizations dedicated to promoting exploration! Check out the Explorer’s Club and Royal Canadian Geographic Society!)
So in your endeavours – no matter how wonky, how out of the box, or how far fetched they might seem to others – shoot for the moon. Take the risk and make the attempt – it is in trying and the voyage that we become greater as individuals and as a people. Ignore the naysayers, make your plans, stand up for your beliefs, and go for it! Ours is an age that calls each of us to dream big. Each person who walks out onto a huge trail – the AT, PCT, CDT, the Camino de Santiago, the American Discovery Trail….is a dreamer, a poet and explorer. The world needs more of these risk takers and leaders!
While I have every expectation of completing this hike and touching every ocean – the fact is that even if I am unable to – just in daring to be different, striving to challenge what I know, to break out of the routine I was in, see the world from a different perspective and see the moon shine from the other side of the earth – it will all be worth it!
Never give up on your dreams, never stop being creative, and remember you are never too old and it is never too late!
Dream big and keep exploring – it’s the stuff that life is made of!
See you on the trail!
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