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Heroes

This explorer spends his life testing the limits. But why does he bother?

Answers to the question, "Why bother leaving the house at all?"

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Universal Pictures: Everest

In 2004, explorer Ben Saunders skied from the north coast of Russia to the north coast of Canada via the Arctic Ocean.

During this solo trip, he spent 72 days — or 10 weeks — in complete solitude, dragging nearly 400 pounds of supplies behind him.


Image from Ben Saunders' TED Talk.

But that didn't satisfy his thirst for adventure.

In 2013 and 2014, Saunders led the first successful journey on foot from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. That trip took 15 weeks.

Sure, Saunders' feats are impressive. But why does he do it? As an interviewer once asked him, "If it is being done somewhere by someone, and we can participate virtually, then why bother leaving the house?"

Here are a few of the reasons Saunders gives for his relentless drive to explore.

"Because it's there."

This quote is often credited to George Lee Mallory, the man who may (or may not) have been the first person ever to summit Mount Everest. Mallory is pictured below, second from the left in the back row.

Image from Ben Saunders' TED Talk.

When asked, "What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?" Mallory replied, "It is no use. ... What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy, and joy, after all, is the end of life."

Mallory was last seen alive disappearing into the clouds on Mount Everest in 1924.

"No one else will ever, could ever, possibly see the views, the vistas, that I saw."

When Saunders completed his expedition to the North Pole in 2004, he was traveling over a drifting sea of ever-changing ice.

Because of the constant shifts in that terrain, he had an experience that no one in the world will ever have again. NO ONE in the world will ever see exactly what he saw.

And that seems pretty worth it.

Image from Ben Saunders' TED Talk.

Saunders explains in a TED Talk, "I can try to tell you what it was like, but you'll never know what it was like. And the more I try to explain ... the more words fall short, and I'm unable to do it justice."

"Real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and challenge."

Sure, this one's a bit cheesy, but hear him out.

Ben Saunders, extravagant explorer, is aware that you could get the answers to almost any question you could think to ask, right from your laptop or phone.

But in all his years of subjecting himself to extreme challenges, he's learned something important: "If I've learned anything in nearly 12 years now of dragging heavy things around cold places, it is that true, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and from challenge."

In the end, Saunders' point is this: "We could all benefit from getting outside the house a little more often, if only we could summon up the courage."

No, you don't have to walk to the North Pole. No, you don't have to hand in your laptop and quit the Internet entirely.

But there is a lot of truth to what he's saying.

Many of these quotes were taken from Saunders' TED Talk titled "Why bother leaving the house?" If you have the time, it's worth checking out the whole video here:

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


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