Exploration. A thing of the past, when there were still blank spots on the map?
Maybe not, if only we realize how much there is left, certainly for us personally, to learn and see.
Let’s call it microexploration.
The Example of Microadventures
Compared to the grand adventures we see others having in far-away places, our little familiar parts of the world seem nothing.
You can’t always just travel, though – and if you did, you’d learn that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
As Alastair Humphreys has reminded us, there is a chance for having microadventures anywhere, though.
Just a Little Step Outside
You do not need to travel far and face great dangers to move outside your comfort zone. It is enough for most of us to just sleep in our backyards to get a little whiff of adventure.
That may seem like too little, but considering how little we tend to know of our surroundings, it is quite the start.
Continue by walking a bit farther afield, taking different routes, going out in heat or in cold… There will be quite the bit of adventure, of discovery.
Adventure always has that ring of the uncomfortable and, well, adventurous to it, though. Of extraordinary things done in order to do something extraordinary.
The Expansion to Microexploration
We would do well to get at home in this our world, though. And that’s not by adventure that has to get ever more extreme, it’s by exploration that looks deeper.
What could you want to explore when outer space seems the only remaining frontier? What is left to explore when a quick Google search will tell you everything?
We are falling victim to a big misunderstanding here. Victim to lives of superficiality that overlook great opportunities for learning and living better.
When you “only” go out on microadventures, you already start to experience more. You do not yet get to know it quite so much, though.
When you travel far and wide, chances are you will get to the places that are a must-see. But, you will not know quite that much about them.
Combine travel and microadventures with learning, and you can grow in experience(s) and in knowledge.
And there may yet be more…
Nothing New Under the Sun?
One of the reasons we think that exploration is over: We keep thinking of it as something that happened when little of the world was known.
Now, we only need to google. The world’s knowledge is, famously, at our fingertips.
Except it isn’t.
There is actually a lot of things that are less well known than we might think.
The Example of Spices
One of my personal fascinations has been with hot spices and strong, special aromas.
As it turns out, the diversity of chile peppers and their appropriate culinary uses is not so clear. (And I am not even thinking of people for whom the relationship between green, orange and red bell peppers is new).
OK so I’ve just found out that green peppers turn yellow then orange then red and they’re actually all the same pepper just less ripe and my mind is blown— Amy (@callmeamye) September 11, 2018
The botany of the Sichuan pepper, in its use as a spice, has been looked at rather too little.
Even the variety within matcha (after all, a food trend only too many blogs and books have been written about) is largely unexplored.
These are not continents waiting to be discovered by great explorers – and that story turned out quite the whitewashing of a bloody history of colonialism, anyways.
Topics await a closer look just about anywhere, though.
Especially when we think of our personal relationship with the world, microexploration becomes interesting.
Even a deeper understanding of different cultures, an interest to many (see Japan vloggers, for example), will not interest everyone.
The botany of peppers or diversity of matcha, even fewer.
Then again, the discovery of continents that had not been known to others also did not interest everyone.
What we can learn, discover for ourselves, grow in knowledge and experiences from, can well be very personal.
It will still be worth it.
Something only has to be new to you to be a little discovery to you. Thus, microexploration along your personal interests will still profit you.
How to do Microexploration?
Just nourish that curiosity, stay in and study, go out and see, return and learn still more. It’s what has led humanity so far.
Explore what you can do with that knowledge and those experiences, too, and you might well discover yet other possibilities.
In times of climate change and fear of the other – often made all the worse by ignorance – we need explorers of the world all the more.
In studies and travel, and in work and stories. Not on Instagram.
We shall not cease from explorationT.S. Eliot (1943)
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
We’ll have a look at a few more ideas. Dare I say, we’ll explore some ideas? ;)