The Itch of Exploration

This blog was featured a long time ago on another half baked blog I had.

Sometimes exploring can make one itch. Sometimes literally, if you are exploring a fiberglass insulation plant or crawling through a field of poison ivy, but sometimes it’s a bit deeper than that. The itch usually begins developing when you are looking at pictures of Glacier National Park or the Grand Tetons mountain range. It’s so majestic, you just want to hop into the picture and start climbing over the horizon. But you can’t. It’s just a picture on a calendar stuck to the wall of your cubicle. Suddenly, a part of your soul that is flattened down by all the reasonable responsibilities and excuses in your life, starts to kick and squirm, making you all itchy and uncomfortable.

The itching continues until one day you have enough of it and organize a trip to somewhere awesome with some friends. You are so happy and excited since you now have a goal and an objective in life, other than trying to be the fastest hamster on the wheel. You are happy because you are going to experience breathtaking beauty in reality. You are excited because you will soon be experiencing the tangible reality that somehow sets the intangible parts of you all aglow.

You go there, enjoy yourself, and come home. You scratched the itch and it feels better. Aaaah.

Soon enough, however, you start to feel the itch again. The itch to explore is a condition that is never cured, and only gets worse the more it’s treated.

A lot of people don’t understand the condition of exploration. Your employer, especially, will be asking things like:

businessman run in 3d hamster wheele
Ever have that feeling like you’re going nowhere?

“You’re traveling again? Didn’t you just get home from (put a place in here) just a few months ago?”

You’re parents and married friends will be like:

“Isn’t it time to settle down and get on with life?”

Regardless, a prevailing mindset that comes with your return from the land down yonder is this:

“I’m glad you got that traveling bug out of your system. Now, here’s some stuff to catch up on.”

That’s a sign that they just don’t get it. A traveling bug can’t be squashed. Unkown to them, you are already planning another trip in the back of their mind, you just don’t know where to yet.  The thought of sticking it out in a cubicle for another twenty years crushes your free spirited soul like an obese elephant sitting his haunches down on an aluminum can. That’s the exact kind of crunching sound a crushed sense of adventure sounds like.

However, like an aluminum can, your sense of adventure can be crushed, flattened, and buried, but it’s non-corrosive and pretty much lasts forever in some form, despite being in the bottom of a landfill.

And soon, it repeats itself. You find yourself boarding an airplane bound for some part of somewhere you’ve never been before. Or, you find yourself driving all night, bleary eyed and twitching from the copious amounts of cheap coffee you’re chugging, just so you can go hiking for a day. Then you turn around and head back towards civilization again, all for the sake of some job and lifestyle you don’t even really want.

You begin to get depressed. No matter how many places you’ve found, there’s always more to discover. No matter how many people you’ve met, there’s billions more living their lives, never to cross paths with yours. No matter how many times you’ve seen the same sun set in different places, you still want to get a thrill out of seeing it rise again somewhere else.

Traveling is merely dumping fuel on the fire of exploration. No matter how much money you have and no matter how much time you are allotted, you will never, ever visit every place on earth.

And I’m beginning to realize that’s a good thing. For the love of exploration is a love that will never die. Discovery isn’t a goal to be completed, but a continuing series of events that compounds on itself as you go through life. There will always be something, someone, or somewhere that is utterly astounding and that will excite that part of your soul that leaps at the chance of discovery.

 

Old Boat in Homer Low Res
An old boat on the Homer Spit. March in Homer, AK.
Ricketts Glen Waterfall Horizontal 2
Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania. October.

The itch of exploration is something personal. People can and have explored a majority of the world. But you haven’t. And, unlike many people, you aren’t content with pictures in a magazine or a blog. In fact, other adventurer’s experiences do nothing to satisfy the thirst of discovery in your own soul. They only give you a desire to go see it for yourself. Personally experiencing something awesome on your own is the definition of discovery. Scuba diving looks like fun, but you haven’t discovered it until you’ve done it on your own. I have my SSI certification now. People have gone scuba diving long before I found it, but I’ve only discovered it recently. I’ve discovered SCUBA because I’ve personally experienced it. No one else can discover things for you. No words will sufficiently describe an experience to the point that you won’t discover it more doing it for yourself.

Discovery is an infinite, never ending process, yet it’s a personally fulfilling experience. What are you discovering today?

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