I’ve often wondered about the courage it took for the first European settlers to come to America and explore this country. Most of them came with nothing more than what they had on their backs. They knew there was no way to go “home”. It was a one way ticket to the New World and they had to make it or die trying.
Obviously, there were Native Americans here and those Europeans made some serious, arrogant mistakes in how they approached the land and the people. But I’m still impressed that settlers came at all, and even more impressed with the effort it took to head west.
It must have been an incredible challenge for the early explorers to set out with no roads and barely able to see the land ahead of them because of the miles and miles of forests. And then, in the distance through a break in the trees, they would have seen something like Pilot Mountain. And that marker would have given them the guide to keep moving forward.
Pilot Mountain’s Native American name was Jomeokee. It means “the Great Guide” or Pilot. The mountain stands as a reference point for travelers and can be seen for miles from where it rises 1400 feet above the relatively flat plain. Looking from the Little Pinnacle to the Big Pinnacle, feeling somewhat on top of the world (if still less than half a mile above sea level) I’m sure I was the only one of the hundreds of visitors yesterday wondering about the history of the place and what it says about our future.
Do we still have the same explorer spirit we had 300 years ago? Are we tough enough to do what those early men and women did? Honestly, I think so. That’s why we challenge ourselves with extreme sports and Ultimate Fighter Championships or competitions in front of cameras on reality shows. It’s how we push ourselves. We are missing real challenges so we compensate with self-imposed ones. As I’m writing this, the Chris Rice song “You don’t have to yell”came on Pandora. It sums up my thoughts on “reality” television and why I refuse to watch any of it. Those are just artificial challenges to make us forget that we are missing something.
Daily, I’m more and more convinced that we need to explore the world around us and see what sort of difference we can make for each other. When Neil Armstrong passed away recently, I wrote a blog about him and the idea of being challenged to do something bigger than ourselves.It would be easy to say, “Who will lead us?” and sit back and wait for one of our elected leaders to get us out of our easy chairs and inspire us the way John Kennedy did a generation ago.
But why wait? Why are we waiting for permission? I just finished reading the book Tribes by Seth Godin. He talks about the mistake that many of us make, waiting for permission to take charge and lead. There isn’t anyone to give us permission. We just need to step up and do it.
Every day I see someone complain about something on Facebook. Often, those same people acknowledge that it is a “First World” problem, realizing what they are complaining about isn’t all that important. Other friends talk about feeling lonely or bored while they sit at home or at a bar by themselves. It makes me sad to see them wasting talents and energy when they could be setting the world on fire with their energy and ideas.
That settler spirit is in all of us. We just need to set out and see what’s out there ahead of us. I’m not saying we need build a rocket to the moon or explore uncharted lands. We don’t need to pick up our families and move to a remote jungle to see if we can survive. There are lots of ways we can “explore” our own worlds: volunteering, teaching a class, reading to kids, inspiring others with our own experiences. It doesn’t matter.
It just takes that first step. Find a pilot in the distance to guide from and start walking.
If you want to talk about opportunities to get out and explore your world, join the group Adventures with a Purpose on FB.