“Every morning when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift!” – Thich Nhat Hanh
That is twenty-four brand-new hours to explore new concepts, things, people, ideas, myself…
I always wanted to be an explorer – go to outer space and discover new planets and lifeforms, wander some uncharted mountains and jungle, discover ancient ruins, raid tombs. There is no need to travel to outer space or work for National Geographic to be an explorer. Anyone can be an explorer. One just has to know how. As an adventurer, observer of my world, and avid writer, I’m an explorer. As a teacher, learner, and writer, I am an explorer. Exploring the unfamiliar, stepping out of the norm and into awkwardness every once and awhile, and critically thinking about observations makes me my own explorer.
As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, I observe my surroundings constructively. I take notes of what I observe to learn more about the world and myself. Then I reflect my knowledge in my story and characters. I don’t stalk, but I record how people and animals exist in their environments, and draw personal conclusions after analyzing. As a writer of fiction, these observations make my characters and their stories more realistic and gives the people in the real world some justice and someone to sympathize with, while my nonficiton provides readers some intelligence and material to critically think about, personally.
Keri Smith says, “I am interested in the idea of taking art (or museum shows/collections) out of the realm of ‘institution’ and into the hands of the individual, one does not need a formal space to put things in, in order for it to be valid. A museum is what you make it.” The world is what each person makes it, not what an institution says she/he should make of it. People have intellects for a reason – to acknowledge the world and elements in it and critically think about them in regards to their existence in this world and try to connect this to the world as a whole. Smith continues saying, “It gives the reader permission to create their own portable (or not portable) show.” When a person reads ideas outside of an institution, readers can create their own ideas about things. I think Keri makes this easier to understand with her statement, “Think of it as a kind of “Sim Museum”, except in the real world.” Peoples’ ideas are evoked from reading other ideas.
Ethnography is the study of other cultures and peoples’ experiences. Self-Ethnography is when one uses her or his self-reflection to explore their personal experience and associate his/her experience with broader cultural, political, and social concepts. Exploration can happen reading a book, the news, and listening and watching videos on YouTube… Many people view the same video or book, but each have their own perception of it; therefore they have their own experience. Explorers!
I can hike upon old ruins. Or I may discover a lost temple or witness the elusive Florida Panther in the wild for the first time. And other people may have wandered upon the same ruins, temple, and seen the Florida Panther. They have their experience and I have mine. We are all explorers, because we will each own our individual perceptions. Being aware, learning new concepts, leaving the comfort zone every once and while to explore uncharted territory (territory one hasn’t charted). I believe this requires, at least part-time, leaving the realm of the institution to learn about the world and oneself as an individual, opposed to staying in the realm and being controlled and ruled on how to behave and think.