This article isn’t about Antarctica.. It’s about how Antarctica isn’t the problem. It’s us. I explore some new directions in tackling contemporary environmental problems. My perception of the world around me (good and bad) continues to flourish. I give a few tips on how to identify the root of the problem into shifting to one's new self. That being said I had a very hard time narrowing down what topics to discuss.. and I ask you to read this from a psychological point of view.
I have just returned from the coldest, windiest, driest continent on Earth.
Untouched, dazzling beauty just as it was millions of years ago.
It holds 90% of the world’s freshwater as ice.
A place where the fragility of our world is the most seen. It is Antarctica.
And it’s… melting.
I’m writing this from what has become my favorite corner of this vessel, the library, port side, with my English breakfast tea in hand, pen in the other. I smile. What is widely considered the most turbulent waters in the world currently don’t uphold its title, but I don’t speak too soon, the weather could change at any moment.
A never-ending horizon of the sea, and yet I am reminded that in all His vastness nothing gets lost. Fantastic! We sailed along and explored the land, surely everyone found what they were seeking, whether that be outside or within themselves. Here the ship is full of life. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner you have an opportunity to sit with someone new, hear their story, their ‘Why Antarctica?’
In my opinion, you must be a little crazy to willingly travel to a place like this and I was on a journey with some of the most fascinating people I have ever met.
A quarter of the ship was on their seventh continent and you can imagine they had a story or two to tell.. I’ve always told myself it's more important to be interested than to be interesting, so I listened. David plays his guitar almost every night in the lounge, someone looking far off in the distance starts singing along, and another guitarist joins in. Becca hosts her game nights as much as she can stay awake, and I am still trying to make Club 311 happen (turn our cabin into a nightclub). During the Drake Passage, the staff presents lectures on topics like oceanography, various species of the Arctic, and climate change.
Which brings me to my personal, ‘Why Antarctica?’
So what’s the meaning? Given everything I’m passionate about, meaning is part of the greater narrative of the story that I am building in my life. I want to take what I learn on this trip to help my community through Ziro Supply (Pensacola, Florida’s first zero-waste shop) and Escape to Pensacola and Beyond. A sustainable lifestyle and way of travel are how citizens of the world can combat our inevitable fight against climate change. This land has great significance for all of humanity due to the unique role it plays in regulating the global climate and ocean currents.
Before embarking on this expedition I was going to simply write about Antarctica’s animals and landscapes, but instead, I’m becoming teary trying to describe the stillness of Ciera Cove in the afternoon sun.
This life surely isn’t about me. It never was.
More whys: I am always keen to marry together my love for the great outdoors and experience sustainable tourism together. My life has led me to this icy continent that holds the future of humanity in its hands. What a gift.
How did we get here? Many truths are out there that can teach us more about how we ended up in this crisis. Human evolution is a blink on the geologic time scale. And our life spans are so insignificant and minute. It makes one wonder — are you really living out your ultimate purpose every single day? Over time we started exploiting our resources (ie: tearing down forests for lumber).
Our biggest problem is grounded in our modern industrial culture (and also between our ears). It has changed how humans think in every way. Our destructive behavior is causing the world to collapse — and people are ignoring it.
There are 8 billion people on the planet. All those people need to eat and most need to work and have some type of shelter or home. I always think of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs when thinking about world population or human development. Physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. I may dive into this later.
I’ll never forget a conversation with the owner of a lodge I worked at, from the time I lived in India. The conversation went something like this.
Me: “Oh this is so sad they are so poor.” But my boss said, “No, Kara they are not poor, they are content, this is their livelihood.”
After a few days of living in the village I realized everyone was actually well-fed and happy (like, genuinely happy) and they just lived completely different than anything I had ever witnessed. A very simple life where you take what you need and nothing more, they farmed their own small plots of land, visited the village market once a week, and socialized in their own way. The kids probably had a fascinating childhood growing up there, my soul probably would actually have enjoyed growing up in that village (I say this in the most innocent way possible because I know how unbelievably privileged I am).
I only mention this because maybe they are the ones living right. Their physiological needs were met but looked drastically different than ‘the norm’ whatever that even means. Severe drought and famine all around the globe, especially in India and Africa, continue to be more widespread.
EGO to ECO
The idea that humans are above other species has created astronomical conflict. We’re in a mindset that nature is ‘out there’ and we are ‘in here.’ We live in a culture where people need everything fast and cheap. They are just running toward money, freedom, and power but often in the wrong direction.
When realizing we are all interconnected with nature and each other you gain more empathy for the world around you. Personally for me, experiencing different struggles around the world while taking in culture has allowed me to rise above my personal problems (often realizing they aren’t even problems at all in the scheme of things).
The shift in recent years to the rise of the individualist, self-interested, and ego-driven human often has me ROTFL. I seriously do not get how people are so obsessed with themselves in an age with profound disruption (in any era). I could go off on this, but generally, I think people try the best they can in day-to-day life, but get stuck in social-norm, the “trends,” and what everyone else is doing. They lack direction.
We must possess an open heart to empathize, an open mind to see the world with fresh eyes, and an open will, to let go and shift to allow you to see something new.
I realize we stand at a critical moment in history, where humanity must choose their future (I actually came to this realization while taking this photo below).
Why do our actions keep creating results we don’t want?
Will you sit it out til the next generation deals with it?
What is keeping me locked into this old way or habit?
How can I transform out of this pattern?
It’s time to dream, even fight for a better future for our world, and for ourselves. Antarctica has a long list of nicknames one being ‘the 7th continent’ and while that isn’t my nickname for it… This is my journey. And Antarctica is part of my story.
A few photos are by: @YUKI_OUTSIDE
Creatively - Kara