Exploring a risky business

Dean Swart profile picture
Dean Swart
Oct 23, 2017

Why do we Explore? Why do some of us seek adventure? From a very early age we are conditioned to be curious, to continually ask the question why? We are encouraged to learn. The bed time stories we are told are all about adventure, the prince that saves the damsel in distress, ‘little red riding hood’. They are full of bravery and daring escapades. We grow up playing games in the same vain, always wanting to be the one who wins, the one who saves the day. This continues throughout our education, “Be the Best at what you do......Get good grades at school so that you can study and have a good career”.


You see.......We are all adventurers, we are all explorers. Somewhere along life’s journey, society starts to tell you to be “responsible, to grow up, to settle down, to work at your career, be sensible”. It is at this point that most of us stop being adventurers. We stop taking risks, we become narrow minded in our pursuits and instead start to become selfish in our rush to become successful. By who’s standards do we measure success?. In our modern world we measure our success by the cost of our leisure time. The more expensive our holiday, the fancier our car, the more successful we are. Who is to say that a small tribe living in the heart of the Amazon is primitive, less successful, less happier. They are after all a master of their environment. They want for very little that nature cannot provide, they are happy and content, can raise a family and have a laugh. At the end of the day they want the same fundamental things we do. For most of us that do settle down, we still have that sense of adventure, we watch films about adventure, we hanker after exotic holidays and cheer our favourite sports team. We become armchair warriors.


A few people never lose that drive to seek out the unknown, in the eyes of the majority they never grow up. There is a saying attributed to Muhammed, “Do not tell me about your education, tell me instead about your travels”. Travel and adventure broaden the mind, if we immerse ourselves in far away places, people and cultures, it forces us to understand. It tempers our prejudices and bigotry, our preconceived ideas about others. For those of us who do seek far away places and little known environments, it is incumbent on us to do this responsibly and in a sensitive manner. It falls on us to bring back our experience and knowledge, to educate the rest, to make the world a better place. Those of us who explore are no different to the rest, that candle of curiosity just burns a little brighter. Hopefully that yearning to go, keeps us a little younger at heart.


Adventurers and explorers are risk takers by nature, someone has to be otherwise we will never expand the boundaries of human endeavour. We do not have a death wish, I would argue that most of us have a healthy respect for life and a great understanding as to the consequences of the risks we take. Yet, despite the calculated risks, the price we are prepared to pay for that yearning, for the excitement, the desire to go, is well worth it. Hendrik Coetzee was a well renowned South African kayak-er based in Uganda. Among his many achievements, he paddled the Blue Nile river from source to sea. He had a simple outlook on being an adventurer, he was all ways looking for ‘The best day ever’. His quest was to find that one day, the one day that could become the destination, he had many ‘Best days’. Sadly he was killed by a crocodile while out on one of his trips for ‘The best day ever’. Yet that was the risk he took, he took it in the full knowledge that it may be his last. It was the ultimate price, yet if he were here to ask, I believe he would agree, that to him it was worth it. It helps to adopt the attitude that when its your time its your time, be it dying in a car accident or starving to death in a desert.


My outlook is no less simple, I have always said that it does not matter how I die, it must just be a good death. I would rather die falling of a cliff doing something I enjoyed then die a senseless death at the hands of some drunk driver.


To be honest crossing the road is a risky business.