The stories of Ronald Amundsen, Robert Peary, Magellan, Vasco Da Gama and many others of their ilk used to soak up all available places of my mind. Every conceivable lobe and fold of my brain would have had so much detail about some explorer or other. Tales of grit, valour and a spirit that seemed determinedly curious to find what was generally not explored!
I could never fathom why people went in search of the North Pole or the South Pole. Crossing oceans with provisions that would pale in front of what I would have as ‘snacks’ on a sane evening! Armed with nothing but a blinding courage that somehow all will be ok and something would emerge from their quest.
Many history classes had me wide-eyed hearing tales of their trysts with fate. Usually ending with how heroic their saga was. Sometimes they got into geography books as well. With a creek, crevice, mountain, a rock or at least a ship of a subsequent explorer named after them.
The dictionary with all appropriate brevity called an explorer “a person who travels and investigates little known places.” For many years I wondered If I would ever meet a true explorer. Someone who bounded in the constant quest of things that seemingly weren’t apparent. Irrespective of what people thought or said.
And then the daughter happened.
Exploration got redefined. Everything that I had read up, written about, discussed over endless streams of coffee and other liquids wore off like water off a lotus leaf. My regard for Ronald Amundsen and Scott Peary paled.
But now, I have a bagful of qualifiers of a true explorer. Oh wait. Make that two bags full. But as a responsible chap who doesn’t want to usurp time of unsuspecting readers, here are just five. The top five qualifiers of a true explorer!
If you are an explorer, you seek for the seeking. Not for the glory of the moment or and the media flashlights that come after it. Please allow me to explain with an example.
For instance, you will choose to put your hand into the round hole in the bass speaker that daddy’s music system boasts of. Just to test how your favourite rhyme sounds with your hands inside the system. You couldn’t care about electricity or its effects. If there is a gap big enough for your 15 month old hand to sink in, well the hands go right inside! It’s a different matter though, that when daddy puts his hands inside the same woofer’s opening, just to check if you have something interesting inside, he comes across lost items that consumed many hours of his faithful search. Car keys. Nail clippers. Fountain Pens. Obviously, your hands have been into the speaker many times before!
So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my first test of what defines a true explorer: A true explorer seeks for the seeking. Not for the glory that comes along with seeking! Once it is found, the explorer goes on to explore other stuff.
If you are a true explorer you will relish sharing things with the world. Things that YOU find interesting. Not what the world is interested in. Stuff that you have found. Tucked away. Folded up. Or stowed in cupboards that were regarded as, ‘beyond reach’.
For example, opening the wardrobe and pulling out daddy’s underwear, dragging it all the way to the living room when he is speaking to guests is your way of expressing discovery. Just to see the expression on daddy’s face. Or maybe more importantly on Mommy’s face while the guests are going to town with barely concealed laughter laden grins. An explorer doesn’t care if daddy is not David Beckham but just another balding man with bulging tyres at the wrong places in the body.
As an original explorer, such showcasing should spout more joy than possibly all the joy Ronald Amundsen could have found in the South Pole!
A true explorer shares discoveries. Whatever the explorer thinks is interesting to share!
An explorer is a true explorer if he or she has mapped escape routes from disaster scene, as a matter of natural routine! Just naturally. For instance, as an explorer, assume you are exploring the audio system’s volume knob. You are turning the volume up and down. Up and down. Up and down.
The song that Mommy hates starts playing. Almost on cue, you turn the volume all the way up (as in ALL THE WAY). You know that mommy is going to come into the room with a rant and fiery face. Which is when you exercise the escape route: Run and cling to daddy. And if daddy is coming in with fiery face, especially when you have broken the volume knob, well, you cling to mommy!
Or if both of them come in fiery faced, you smile and clap your hands. Basically you know how to melt them down.
Qualifying criteria number three, ladies and gentlemen, if you are a real explorer, you ought to know how to melt people!
Another aspect that distinguishes a master explorer from the scores of ordinary ones is this: Being a master explorer is not about going and exploring the ends of the world but to look at the smallest available object as the world and explore it with undivided interest and attention.
The green button on the TV remote. A broken calculator. Car keys. Shoes. Whatever. Examined with utmost care and extreme concentration.
A true explorer explores the world with every sensory organ being stimulated for a proper exploration. I mean, if it is daddy’s sunglasses, they have to be dropped on the floor. To hear them crack, perhaps! If it is his pen, it has to be nibbled. All done with furrowed eyebrows and a sincere serious demeanor that only a scientist who is launching a satellite to Pluto can better. With great difficulty.
Exploration starts at home. Begins with the examination of the nearest object at hand. With proper deployment of all sensory organs of the body!
A true explorer is poker faced.The greater the discovery or more serious the ramification of a discovery, the more poker faced the explorer gets. No exultation. No sour face. No pumping of fist in air. Just a wide interest in figuring out what lies inside places and things that are not normally frequented.
And when you find something, move on to the next one. Shh!
That’s ladies and gentlemen are my criteria to define modern day explorers. Now am I way off the mark?
Kavi dabbles in writing, reading, traveling, photography, long distance running amongst other things. He and Shanti have their hands full with their adorable toddler, Kayal. In-between all of this, he gives an arm, leg and everything else to earn a living. Usually accomplished by punching keys, attending meetings and trying to sound profound. He blogs at http://kavismusings.blogspot.com & tweets @kavismusings. Just in case you are intrigued enough to know more about him please head to http://about.me/kaviarasu.