Human beings are voyagers.
For 200 000 years we have been drifting through the Universe, constantly stretching, pushing, expanding, moving, developing; Always struggling to reach higher, to go deeper, to know more.
We have climbed mountains and crossed oceans. We have built pyramids, and libraries and airplanes. We have invented knives and wheels and x-ray machines and iPhones. We have discovered atoms and galaxies. And we have taken our first small steps into the deep forests of the World Wide Web.
Our history is full of explorers. And we are constantly discovering new landscapes.
What is it that keeps pushing us?
Why did Columbus risk his life (and the lives of hundreds of others) to discover America? Why did Marie Curie expose herself to danger to develop her theories of radiation? What drove Carl von Linné to travel an unknown world in order to systematize plants and flowers? And what on earth made Neil Armstrong leave this green and exuberant planet behind, to put his feet on the surface of a gray and dusty moon?
A couple of years ago, a Norwegian newspaper hired me to take some pictures at a fertility clinic, and one of the employees invited me to have a look at a sperm sample in a microscope. It was a breathtaking experience. I will never forget the feeling of awe and wonder that rose in me, as I witnessed the incredible movement of thousands of very alive cells.
A similar thing happened the first time I watched the sky through the lens of a telescope. I was totally blown away by the sight of an uncountable number of stars and the bright light of Saturn, accompanied by the voice of an astrologer explaining to me that we are all made of stardust. It made me feel like a part of a big puzzle. Like a tiny, tiny part of a pattern that is too huge and complex for my little human brain to grasp.
Both of these experiences opened my eyes to the mysteries that are unfolding inside of us and around us. They didn’t give me the whole answer to why human beings have this mystical drive to develop. But they gave me a glimpse of the secrets of the Universe. And left me with an overwhelming urgency to find out more.
There is something profoundly human about our wish to know who we are, where we are going and where we are coming from.
It doesn’t matter if we are astronauts or housewives or musicians or presidents or teachers. We are explorers. Our job is to keep learning. To keep growing. To keep discovering. To climb mountains and cross oceans, both mentally and physically. To keep searching. And to keep building impressive and life-changing things.
The American astronomer Carl Sagan once said:
”Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”
So let’s keep exploring!
A good start would be to watch this: