Friday, April 06, 2012

Book Review: The Natural Explorer

What does it mean to be an explorer in the age of Google Earth? When, unlike Magellan or Amundsen, we can not venture into lands uncharted or unmapped but rather known with a sometimes deep history, how can we still explore?

Those are the questions posed in The Natural Explorer by Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator. In what will surely become recognised as a classic of the genre Tristan reclaims the word for all of us.

Tristan (*) approaches the word in two directions. Firstly by suggesting we appreciate more the journeys we take by seeing how even the simplest path interacts with layers upon layers of information and knowledge.

Keep you senses, heart and mind open to the world around you. Be aware of the plants, the animals, the soil, the coastline, the hills and mountains, the sky, light and weather, waters both still and flowing, trees, woods and forests, geology and history, humans, cultures, food, drink, possessions, language, religions, beauty, music, art and so see the richness of the world.

As an example of this philosophy Tristan offers us the great German explorer Alexander von Humboldt who relished this greater treasure and his writing was valued by many not just of his time, like Charles Darwin, but also today.

For Humboldt also shows a way forward for exploring, as an act of communication. Those that gained the label of great explorer are almost by definition those that told the world of what they found.

And the modern explorer can do the same, for communicating what he or she finds is actually more necessary as the amount of information we could possibly know becomes an overpowering tsunami.

Filter data for knowledge, select stories wisely to tell truths, these are the tasks of the modern day explorer.

Another great read, well written and thought providing.

(*) full disclosure: Tristan is a sailing friend of mine

Picture from: Amazon

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