- Nov 4, 2009
- Reaction score
I had to write a piece for my English class, and I thought I'd share. It had to be around 800 words, and this pulls in at 757. Feel free to critique.
There was a time when, scribbled onto the borders of even the most accurate of sea charts, you could find the warning 'Here be dragons'. It was an era where you could live your entire life without leaving the comfort of the area you were born in. You could stand on top of a hill, and, seeing the distant lands that surround your village, you could become afraid of what lurks there. What unseen beasts waited across the river? What sleeping giant lurked in that valley? It would be easy to descend from that hill knowing that you would never have to leave the confines of your community; to know that, no matter what shadows dwelt just beyond the reaches of your home, you would never have to face them.
There were a few, however, that, when standing on top of that hill gazing outward, would gladly leave behind their village to venture into the shadows. Without any preconceived notion of what was out there, they would be driven to leave all that they were familiar with, just to discover what was out there. That drive is uniquely human, and is the very core of what makes us human. No other animal will willingly leave it's home, where there are plenty of supplies and provisions, just to seek out new locations. What would it be like, to be one of these adventurers, one of these early explorers? To come to the end of a bluff, and look out on lands that are yet uncharted. For a moment, however brief, that sight is unique to you. That land is yours, no matter who has sent you to claim it. I imagine those early explorers standing atop the hill once again, although many years later. Small lights, villages, now dot the land that was once feared and avoided. It is easy to picture a smile coming across their face, for they are the only ones who know that land as it truly was; wild and untamed.
Slowly however, the borders of the map where filled in. Gone were the scribbled warnings of dragons and sea monsters, and, in their place, were just another mountain range or river. It was no longer a unique and mysterious piece of land- it was now charted and documented. For, by venturing out into them, these explorers tamed them. By mere virtue of being seen, the wild beauty of these regions was replaced with lines of ink on paper. Traveling back to the top of your hill, you would have to strain your eyes to glimpse the regions beyond civilization. And, at a point, these black regions of wilderness would disappear completely from vision. You would need to find a new hill from which to gaze. Even then, you would eventually run out of hills.
Now, these same people have no hills to climb. We have reached a point where, for modern day explorers, no stone has been left unturned, and no region uncharted. We, as I consider myself one of those with the drive to explore, have no hills to climb. At any moment, I can access maps of any location before me, and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that no beast lying in wait for me there. Many find this fact comforting, that we, as a society, have charted our borders; that we know what is across the river. I, however, am saddened by this notion. I am saddened by the fact that, no matter where I travel, there have been others there before me. We can no longer fulfill the urge to explore, and, in consequence we have been robbed of one of the core aspects of our humanity. By our progress, we have become less human than our ancestors.
However depressing this notion is, I am comforted by the fact that, when I look up, I am seeing countless worlds without maps. It excites me when I hear about manned exploration of the stars, because I know that I am not the only one with that drive. No matter what planet we next explore, we will have the experiencing of seeing a place as it is, before all else. Once more will we have hills to climb, and valleys to cross. Again will we have to erase the borders of our maps, because we have discovered the landscape beyond the edges. I am happy to know that, whether or not it is this generation or the next, we will once again know what it is to be human.