When I was a child, I broke a tooth. My mother was practicing the organ at church, and my brother and I were playing in the foyer, which was spanned by a tall balcony. For some reason, I decided to climb over the rail and attempt to cross the entire length of the balcony, hanging only by my fingertips. Needless say, I fell, and it hurt--a lot. I learned a lesson that day--not to overestimate myself so recklessly--but in many ways I am still that same child. I still want to push myself to the very edge. Anything less is boring.

I used to lament missing out on the golden Age of Exploration, the days of the Magellan Expedition, of Lewis and Clark. We live in the age of convenience and easy information, but instead, it is challenge and novelty that makes me feel most alive. A couple years ago, when I first read about the records for human-powered circumnavigation, I realized there is yet an unfilled record, to row completely around the world. It seemed the natural climax to my previous endeavors, so I studied the maps and records, and the dream grew and grew. Someday, someone will do it. Why not me?

I believe we explore because it is in our nature, because we enjoy it, and because it teaches us. Nowadays, it usually teaches us what we already know, which we call “perspective.” For example, I never cease to marvel, whenever I travel, how our world is at once both so dauntingly huge and varied and yet also so approachably human, with so much in common. As I travel slowly, by my own efforts, I am constantly reminded that while most of us live in urban areas, our planet remains overwhelmingly rural, that although our human dominion and influence reach far and wide, we depend upon huge expanses of crops and wild lands to sustain us. I expect to gain a similar appreciation of the oceans in my upcoming journey, a respect for the way we interact with that one thing that, to our benefit as well as our exclusion, dominates the surface of our planet.

~Austin Anderson