To finish George Mallory’s quote above, “We don’t live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means, and that is what life is for.” Below I’m sharing another TED Talk I found. It’s given by Ben Saunders (more about him below) and it was exactly what I needed to hear right now. Lately I’ve been struggling a little with the reason for my trip as well as some of the other “adventures” I get up to. I no longer have any questions.
A few weeks ago a co-worker of mine said something close to “You do things just to do them.” Maybe I’m projecting, but it sounded like it was meant in a negative connotation. It made it sound like there was no reason to do any of it and that my actions were wastes of time. It sent me into some introspection about the things I do. Regularly I force myself into situations that are outside my comfort zone. I don’t think most people afraid of heights repel down waterfalls. I usually never return to places I’ve traveled before, although I’ve always liked where I’ve visited, because I want to experience somewhere new. I want to try almost everything I can in life. But why? Do I do it because it makes a fun story later? Do I do it just out of boredom?
This led me to questioning spending all this money on a trip to see things that are documented ad nauseam online. Why drive all the way to Roswell, NM to visit a UFO shaped McDonald’s? There are plenty of pictures of it online. I’ve tasted McDonald’s fries enough that I’m fairly certain I know what they’ll be like in Roswell. I’m hopeful I’ll find surprise sights on my drive but for the most part I know where I’ll be stopping. I have to have a plan. I can’t drive 8,000 miles just hoping to stumble upon unknown gems. But if I know where I’m visiting, have seen multiple pictures of these places, and can probably find video tours on YouTube, why go? Will there be any surprise or excitement?
The video below ended all my uncertainty. I do things just to do them and that’s great! I can know a recipe, I can see/smell/taste the ingredients, and I can still not know how a dish tastes or if I’ll like it. As you’ll hear from Saunders, although his is an extreme case, no one will ever see what I’m seeing on this trip. Each moment is new and everyone’s perspectives are different. My experience feeling these places, smelling them, and in some cases, tasting them will be unique to me. The experiences at each place will build on my perspectives and alter how I’ll experience the next stop. No one will ever take this trip but me.
To be honest, I will probably never have an adventure on the same scale as Saunders. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but I doubt there will ever be a Wikipedia article about me with (explorer) after my name. I doubt I’ll ever set any expedition records like Saunders. He was the first man to cross the article circle alone on foot. Him and a friend hold the record for longest human-powered polar journey in history. I probably won’t be asked to give a TED talk. The scale of his adventures don’t belittle mine. His experiences are different than mine, but the important part is we’re both experiencing life. We’re doing things just to do them.