An Introduction: Choose Only One Master – Nature

Earnest Shackleton once said that "it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown". This I believe to be true. There is an innate desire in all of us to understand the incomprehensible and know the unfathomable. It exists in the infant reaching out toward a world of possibilities, a teenager toward the secrets of adults, and in the elderly toward that which is still to be done. At the age of 78 (nearly 79!), my Grandpa still tends to his garden. I'll be damned if a season goes by where he doesn't tell me about a new thing that he has learned, something different to normal happening, or of  new flower arrangements blooming. The problem, if there is one, is that the act of discovery in all of us is increasingly becoming a feat of mind removed from matter.

The Evening Star - Joseph Mallord William Turner

Picture this, it is an ungodly hour in the Black Mountains. The temperature has been clocked at minus 26 (centigrade, you heathens) when windchill is factored in. After one questionable turn you find yourself walking down a frozen riverbed, which at a furious rate becomes sliding and a more furious rate still, falling. Before you realise it you're arse over tit and left on the ground staring at the skies. It seems worthwhile just to lie there a little longer admiring the beauty of it all until a friend comes over and helps you up. Winded but otherwise okay, you press on: there's a lot more to do before the morning.

This was the state I found myself in last year. Here I was, having thought that sort of thing happens only in films; it was happening to me. I'm not trying to make myself seem like more than I am -- as if I could ever aspire to the heights of Newby or Bryson -- but just telling a tale to show that adventure's available to all. Your flavour may differ to mine, but it's there for you to seize. And in a world where seizing the day is evidently becoming more akin to refreshing various feeds, this is why here's, well, here.

Just before the riverbed

The internet is a great place. It provides ways to keep in touch with loved ones, mechanisms to learn new things, and the means to discover. But, just as a compass will only ever point in the right direction, the internet is a tool to be harnessed. The internet is not a means of replacing the world. Liking a picture on instagram or a video on youtube will never accrue the same goodness or virtue of actually carrying out an activity itself. This isn't a suggestion that we should all try to freesolo El Capitan, but that we should let these feelings we experience when we view things like this guide us. Should you feel an affinity for climbing, learn to climb; for hiking, go hiking; for multiday ultramarathons, get training. What I hope to get from here is a repository that people can stumble upon and gain inspiration to do something. Be it as an amateur trying things for the first time or someone more salty looking to repeat what I've been up to. Just somewhere that by chance or design a person can delve into, spend a while, and go forward interested by something they've engaged with.

Randy Pausch famously remarked "the questions are always more important than the answers", but to that I disagree. Of the questions and the answers it is the journey, your workings out, that are the most important. Ask any mathematician and you will find that there is elegance to a solution. The same is true to life, to living and embracing journey and change. The world is huge, vast, and in the grand scheme incalculable. How can you possibly be content enough not to explore more, to settle permanently? How can you ever truly know that what you're resigning yourself to is your place if you haven't pushed yourself through the boundaries of mere comfort? A tendency to adventure doesn't die out, it is wiped out by force: look no further than someone that has been told no one too many times. But, the road goes ever on and on, this isn't the place for it to finish. Cherish that flame. The present moment is all you have, the past being history and the future out of your control; though the chances to explore are infinite, the time you have to do so is not.
You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, say, and think. - Marcus Aurelius
New here? Welcome! This is the second in a three-part introduction to This Isn't The Place. The first part, which you can read here, provides a bit of an introduction to who I am as a person. This post has introduced the idea behind the website; the final post in the series will introduce the plans for the future.


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