When I was about 10 years old my father worked in the Ecuadorian oil industry, one summer he took me and my cousin on holiday to the Amazon rainforest - it turned out to be the most important chapter in my life. As a young lad, this was the best playground I could ever be given access to: deadly oil drilling machinery, hairy tarantulas and a dense jungle inhabited by headshriking tribes. I'll never forget the day my father took me fishing for piranhas on the Aguarico River using telephone wire, rusty fish hooks and raw chicken for bait.
Since childhood and my service in the Armed Forces, I've been on a lifelong expedition. As a student of own life, I've had the unique privilege of observing the relationships between man and nature. My life at sea reminds me of those days on the Aguarico River and how little I knew about what lay beneath the surface of the water - my fear drove me to build mounds of soil in order to prevent my feet from being bitten by those diabolical fish!
There is nothing more humbling than finding yourself face-to-face with something so much bigger than yourself. I've often wondered why does nature inspire us? Why we find oceans, landscapes and stars so breath-taking? We haven't done anything to earn this awe. So why do we feel it? It is this very question that leads me to believe that as human beings our greatest achievement hasn't been our ability to shape nature, but one of humility to admire it and protect it. We naturally fall in love with places that make us feel small and insignificant, places that humble us and remind us that we have so much more to learn about our planet.
We are all part of something bigger than ourselves, a vast blue planet waiting to be explored - we know more about the moon than of our oceans! The significance and quiet recognition of our position in the grand scheme of things is that we all have an ocean in our mind, every day we are blessed with the knowledge that a sunrise will paint a new dawn but so many of us take it for granted. By virtue of just existing, nature has given us a front row seat to appreciate her majesty, it's as if we've won the evolutionary lottery. We could quite literally not exist at all. We could be nothing, we could be incapable of perceiving nothing at all. All of us are just one step away from one unexpected phone call, one diagnosis, one broken heart, one new found love.
So, seemingly insignificant moments with nature; accopanied by someone: a friend, a travel companion, even a stranger willing to listen to the sound of natures silence, reminds us what is important. It remind us that all we really have is our planet and each other. What would life be like without either? Does nature really need us? One thing is certain, we need nature more than nature needs us!
The UN calls on all the planet’s inhabitants to reflect upon their connection to the natural environment and appreciate how much we depend on nature. It challenges us “to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship”. I am very proud to be an expedition guide working with great people and great companies. If you would like to travel with me to the polar regions, deserts, jungles and oceans, please contact me using the link.
Don't let you dreams be dreams, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Travel makes you modest, you will see the small place you occupy in the world.
All images copyright of Seb Coulthard/Shackleton Legacy Ltd