ex·plore verb \ikˈsplō(ə)r, ek-, -ȯ(ə)r, -ōə, -ȯ(ə)\
In thinking about what to write for this, my first post here for RaD Explorations, my first thought was about that word, exploration, and what it meant in the title.
A bit of background might be in order: I love RaD Explorations and embrace it, but I can’t claim that it’s my idea at all; it is the brainchild of my Life Partner in Crime and other half of the RaD team, Renee. When she first came up with it, I was in, but at first I, in my headlong haste into everything, made the error of saying RaD Adventures, and she would gently (usually) correct me. It got me thinking about the word exploration a bit more and that is why I open this post with the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary definition.
I have always tended to think of exploration in the sense of “2 b : to penetrate into or range over for purposes of geographical discovery” in which case maybe it is akin to adventure. Looking at the word’s definition more deeply has opened my mind—as learning about words always does—to so much more. I have tended to associate the word with the grand Western Narrative, with the Age of Exploration, that—for better or worse—is at the heart of my conscious. But looking at the nuances of the definition, I see so much more to the word that inform not only my understanding, but also what I believe the RaD Explorations project to be about.
First, explore’s origin:
Origin of EXPLORE
First, that, the cry. The utterance that alerted the community. I’m reminded of the Basque irrintzi or of yelling from one canyon wall to the next riding. Of shouting over whitewater, of posting on a blog. Those first shouts of exploration were to arouse and ignite a community, and whatever the consequences of this in the story of the planet, it is still at the heart of the word.
But what about that obsolete first meaning: “to seek for or after : strive to attain by search”? Much of our lives joy derives from going out, from exploring. But what does that mean? What are we seeking to attain from it? And what it is, finally, for me, is a balance of myself with the world. I don’t say the natural world, or the cultural world, or the financial world, or any subdivision therein. What I want to do, and what I think we seek to do through our explorations, is to attain the world in its wholeness, in its entirety. A wholeness in these disjointed times mostly found where you see the least and quietest other people. To attain by search though is also for me at its heart about growing. About always building and never saying “I know” but “I learn.”
And this brings me to the heart of the definition,
“to search through or into : make a first or preliminary study of : investigate, examine
I’ve used this meaning a thousand times without thinking about it, but when I do its beauty shines: to explore is to jump into the water with your eyes open rather than squeezed shut. Exploration, with description and explanation, is one of the basic purposes of empirical research. That is why we explore to perceive, to delve into, to dig deeper into our understanding. What the result is—artistic, aesthetic, social, scientific—is what we want to share with the world, but the process is, in this case, as important as the end.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more with you as RaD Explorations. Become an explorer!