For me, 'Better Starts Now' really means taking that first step now—not waiting for someone else, not delaying that action, being on time, in that moment. The world's ice caps are melting at an alarming rate; the amount of ice that we've seen lost on the surface of the planet is dramatic, due to climate change. We cannot afford to wait. So, for me, 'Better Starts Now' means that we all have the ability to create positive change in the world, but we need to do it now, we can't wait.
Because I really enjoy the physical and mental challenges of big expeditions. And I also really enjoy learning about the environment, and being out in that environment, rather than isolated from it. The longer that I'm out there, the more I begin to understand the place and feel connected to it.
On a personal level, the physical and mental challenges keep me engaged. Everything in those environments is trying to beat you down, or worse, kill you! I really enjoy the challenge of not only trying to survive but of feeling comfortable and safe. I'm not someone who likes to sit around and take the easy path!
As an explorer and an environmentalist, this time of COVID-19 is very challenging. Clearly, I'm not able to do any of my trips, travel has been restricted and my spring season has been totally cancelled. I'm just trying to piece together activities and train throughout the summer, so it's a big challenge.
I'm very motivated to try to use my expeditions to tell the stories of the places I go. Not being able to do that has been really impactful. I've been trying to find virtual ways of connecting people to these places, by going through some of my old video, by doing social media posts that engage people and create conversations about these places. I've been working on a bunch of things in order to keep moving forward, even though I'm stuck like everybody else!
You could look at COVID-19 and its impact on our lives as a big inconvenience or hurdle. In a bigger picture, we deal with a lot of uncertainty in expeditions. Right now, for all of us, we're kind of moving towards an uncertain end. We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know when there's going to be a vaccine. Just understanding the fact that not everything can be defined, categorized or controlled really helps you deal with that uncertainty.
Simply dealing with COVID-19 and all of the restrictions that it brings can seem very overwhelming. Just like on an expedition, when we're dealing with really daunting tasks like crossing an ice cap or climbing a mountain, we don't think about the whole task, we just break it up into these small, manageable pieces. 'Begin with one step' is my philosophy. Climbing Mount Everest, skiing to the North Pole—these goals are completely overwhelming, but by taking that first step we're able to slowly chip away at that huge goal.
As human beings, we have an amazing ability to overcome and survive. Just knowing that fact can provide a lot of solace in this time of COVID-19.
About Eric Larsen