Brainfood for the Explorer
By: Lauren Cook
Exploration is risky, but yet so entirely human in its nature. To explore is to pioneer; to pioneer is to be human. The desire to discover the ins-and-outs of creation is only the first step, as actually acknowledging this want is often easier said than done. However, for those of us who do say “yes” to our innate craving for adventure, preparing the mind is just as important as packing the right gear. Here are three vital areas every explorer needs to consider before the journey begins.
Misaligned expectations leave us unfulfilled, unsatisfied and disappointed. Before you head out on your adventure, I challenge you to release the pressure for your trip to be life-altering, or even easy, so your destination can impress itself upon you, rather than you feeling the need to impress yourself upon it. As humans, we tend to try and “define” everything, rather than just letting our experience be what it is. At times, expect to be uncomfortable; resist the temptation to romanticize your upcoming journey. You will probably get lost, sunburnt, or maybe even break a bone. Food should taste different; people should sound different… do not expect everything to be familiar.
An explorer’s sense of openness can also make or break a successful adventure. Choose to embrace everything about your destination – whether it is cold, crisp air in the mountains, or sweaty, colorful stalls in the local market. Personally, I have always been a believer in the power of “the little things.” When you let yourself be completely vulnerable in a new environment, you might be surprised how easy it is to notice, and be impacted by, the small things. A genuine smile from a local or a bright patch of green grass can often provide the comfort you need to get through the day. However, if you are unwilling to be malleable upon arrival, it is likely your brain will bypass these little things and their potential to touch you will vanish.
News flash, you are an explorer. This means you are going to a new place! You are at the mercy of the culture around you, so choose to engage with it as best you can. This could be as simple as turning off your phone while hiking through the woods, learning to say “hello” in another language, or eating a fish that still has its head intact. If you are alone, engage with yourself. Reflect, ponder and be self-aware about your surroundings. If you are in place buzzing with other people, see your environment as a learning experience, where you can gain a new perspective from engaging with those around you. Everything about exploration breeds opportunity for growth, as long as that opportunity is seized.
While easier said than done, letting go of expectations, cultivating a sense of openness, and choosing to engage with a new environment despite the discomfort will all make for a fuller journey. Hats off to you, my fellow explorers!
Photo Credit: Grant McCurdy