Some words of wisdom from explorers

Explorers take many shapes and forms. Some explorers push environmental boundaries – “where no man has gone before ” – others push the boundaries of knowledge and experience –“one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind ” – and many, even back in pre-history, break technological barriers to experience events and discoveries no human had managed before – “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ”

Exploration is exactly like magic, revealing the marvels of the unknown. The chance to be the first, perhaps more importantly the chance not to be the last either – these first steps, these first discoveries, these first experiences, these are what make humans a race of beings; a race of beings determined to expand, explore, reveal the wonders all around.

An astronaut I greatly admire, Brewster Shaw, recently gave a lecture in which he likened any young individual’s pathway to success as an explorer-to-be. His metaphor was taken from the sailor’s need to keep on track, to navigate. Sailors used the North Star to always orientate their way, the North Star was their constant guidepost. So too, someone starting out on the journey of life needs a North Star to keep them on track.

Once a young person decides on a passion, a career or vocational target as a wanna-be explorer they need to apply four steps:

1. Follow your heart. Set your goals and always, always stick to them.

2. Find the opportunities, look for them, seek them out, use them as steppingstones.

3. You have to be competitive always keeping your eye on your personal goal. Others can block your way, so you must find, combat, your way around these obstacles.

4. Share your journey with others. As an explorer your duty is to share with and benefit others. You cannot be a thief hording the experience only for yourself, but sharing it allows you – even if you are first – never to be the last.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.


White House booklet published in 1958, “Introduction to Outer Space”


[ii] Neil Armstrong, July 17, 1969, the Moon


[iii] Arthur C. Clarke, 1973 revision of Profiles of the Future

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