Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. –Mark Twain
Magellan, Columbus, Da Gama, Amundsen, Cook, Eriksson, Lewis & Clark, Shackleton—all names synonymous with adventure and exploration. They circumnavigated the world, discovered continents and became the subjects of history books. There was an unknown, and it was meant to be explored.
In the modern age of the Internet, cell phones, and around-the-world air travel, that sense of the unknown has changed, but it certainly hasn’t disappeared. While there may not be entire continents up for grabs, modern day exploring is just as important as it was during the Age of Exploration, if not more so.
A smaller, more connected world means it’s much easier to live under the illusion that we know everything, have seen everything, and can get access to everything. After all, we don’t risk falling off the edges of the earth because we think it’s flat. But the more you start to explore, the more you realize how little you have seen and known. Exploration isn’t just for the personal journey—it’s for the journey that inevitably makes you a better and stronger part of your global community.
There is always room for discovery. You just have to make the time and space for it. And with this sentiment in mind, here's a checklist for the modern-day explorer:
1. Appreciate the small adventures
You don’t have to be on the other side of the world to explore. Start in your own backyard: Meet a neighbor; photograph an alleyway; start a guerilla garden; visit the local library; buy a new vegetable you’ve never tried at the farmers market. Small adventures are what lead to the big ones.
2. Break out of your comfort zone
Exploring is about pushing yourself—going beyond what you know. Sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. But it’s also what keeps us fueled, inspiring us to move forward and keep trying new things. Good things happen the farther you are from your comfort zone. Dare to step out of it.
3. Be inspired
Surround yourself with the kind of people and ideas that keep your brain running. You never know when a new idea or a new plan will come. Allow time for creativity and say no to the things that you know drain your energy.
4. Open yourself to serendipity
Exploring is about losing a little bit of control; letting the world take you wherever it intends. Follow multiple paths to see where they lead, even if you don’t know the destination. Allow yourself to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Leave the proverbial doors open. As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
You know what keeps you exploring? When you share your adventures with those around you. Exploring is ultimately about learning, and the more we pull in the rest of our community, the more we inspire others to do the same. Share the explorer spirit, tell us about your last adventure—no matter how big or small—in the comments below.
Join us in exploring and protecting the GOOD Outdoors. To participate in our exploration challenge, simply click here to say you'll Do It and we will keep you updated by email on the actions we can all take to to preserve and protect places that mean so much to us.
Image via How to Be an Explorer of the World