The need to explore is a human one. The desire to walk, to move, to discover, and to find wonder in the world runs through us all.
Today’s world has created a new kind of explorer, where those who have been seeking better ways to live become the answer and the inspiration. Forget the old discourse of conquest and exploitation. The new order of humanity requires wisdom, knowledge and a respect for the planet and our proper place within it.
These 5 modern day explorers have risen to the best versions of themselves, using their adventures to forge new possibilities and become ambassadors for the things they truly care about:
1. Liz Clark & the Voyage of Swell
Environmentalist Liz Clarke learnt to sail when she was 7 years old. Now she is living her dream as the captain of her own ship, set sail for a life of positivity, self-awareness and daily activism. Her custom-fixed, solar panelled boat – a 1966 Cal-40 racing boat called Swell – voyage stretches of the South Pacific in search of surf, simplicity and nature. Although friends, family and and stray animals get on board from time to time, Liz travels mostly alone indulging in the freedom of solitude. She left the bay of California 9 years ago. ‘Swell serves as my floating home and transportation. Weather, swell, and tides dictate my days. This isn’t just a surf trip – it’s a lifestyle, passion, and search for better ways for humanity to inhabit our shared planet,’ writes Liz.
Image credit: The Swell Voyage
2. Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu is a multi-disciplinary artist adventuring into the infinite realms of creative pursuit. Best known for his sonic explorations and production in the band Ladytron, he also captures otherworldly images on his perpetual search for unfamiliar terrain. His photography is distinguished by its surreal quality, taking the viewer through lunar terrains, gaseous atmospheres and planetary missions, imagined in places like Patagonia and the Svalbard Archipelago in Norway. I especially love the human proportion in the images. ‘In my visual work, I am driven not just by the urge to create imagery, but by a desire to explore new places as if they were unknown territory, constantly open to serendipity and with an eye for the unnoticed and the hidden,’ Reuben says.
Image credit: Reuben Wu
3. Craig Foster & the Sea Change Project
You may have noticed the Sea Change exhibition currently on display at the Sea Point promenade. Significantly veering from the somewhat inappropriate display of public art that has come under scrutiny recently, the exhibition comes as a breath of fresh sea air. The thoughtful project aims to tell the story of the birth of humanity, and the ancient relationship we all have with the ocean. It’s a call to preserve our unique marine and human heritage by exploring the underwater world of Cape Town’s kelp forests and trying to re-encounter with nature in the same way our ancestors did. ‘We have learnt to track underwater, we have found new species and behaviours, and had encounters with wild animals that we once thought was impossible. We have also learnt how the cold, nutrient-rich sea water positively affects our bodies and our minds’ says Craig. The image below represents how the first peoples might have gathered their harvest from the nutrient-rich waters and seafloor.
Image credit: The Sea Change Project
When the eyes of passerby’s come across a young man in the Walmart parking lot or on a beachfront road, their stares are full of speculative pity: is he homeless? A runaway? A new-age wanderer lost on some spiritual quest? No none of that, because Daniel Norris is not your ordinary man living in a van. Despite being on the cusp of a prosperous career in professional baseball, Daniel is making a name for himself off the field with his unwavering commitment to his boyhood values. ‘Play outdoors. Love the earth. Live simply. Use only what you need.’ With earnings in the millions, Daniel’s home of choice is a 1987 VW van, preferring simplicity and restraint over affluent excess. He travels around looking for epic surf spots, hiking trails and climbing walls. ‘I think the simplicity of it all was the most appealing,’ explains Daniel. ‘I grew up with a simple lifestyle, and I knew going into professional baseball that would be tested. In my mind there’s no need for luxury, or at least society’s sense of the word. I consider my life luxurious – I live on a beach with an ocean-front view, hearty meals, and hot French-pressed coffee at my disposal. That’s fancy, right?’
Image credit: Nathaniel Wood
5. Lynne Cox
Lynne Cox first swam across the English Channel when she was 15 years old. In her 20s, she decided to forge new swimming routes and records by crossing the Strait of Magellan, swimming around the Cape of Good Hope and later the Bering Strait, from the United States to the Soviet Union. The list of waterways she has traversed in nothing more than a one-piece lycra bathing suit goes on and on. Swimming in freezing cold Arctic waters between Greenland and Alaska is perhaps her crowning adventure. Lynn has also published 3 adventure books. ‘Sometimes it’s the process of doing that makes things clear. If we don’t start, we never know what could have been,’ writes Lynne.
Image credit: Martin Schoeller