This morning I was thinking about the bravery of Sir Ernest Shackleton, famed leader of a Trans-Antarctic expedition…man’s first attempt to cross the Antarctic ice cap on feet. It is said Shackleton placed this ad in a London Newspaper in 1913:
“Men wanted: for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
Since that ad has never been found, this could could very well be an urban legend. But no bother—when word got out what Shackleton was planning, he received an overwhelming response.
What followed was one of the most remarkable feats of endurance and strength in the history of human exploration. Under Shackleton’s leadership, the entire crew survived five months camped on ice floes after their ship, which had been trapped in the ice for several months, succumbed to the ice pack. Knowing rescue wouldn’t be coming to them, Shackleton then led his expedition on a five-day-voyage in an open life boat to Elephant Island. But their journey was still not yet done.
Eventually, a team of five, including Shackleton, traversed 850 miles of icy seas to reach South Georgia Island where they found help at a whaling station.
Three months and three failed attempts later, Shackleton made it back to his waiting crew with a rescue ship.
Under Shackleton’s brave leadership, every man survived.
And yes…I see that hand in the back of the class—What the heck does this have to do with tranquilized deer?
Everything my dear, Grasshopper. This funny story appears in the New York News. Short version: Two deer leap into a school through a window later to be removed, tranquilized, by animal control officers.
Hmmmmm. The deer aren’t the only things that leave school tranquilized, I mused.
I think one of the deepest tragedy of compulsory, conformity-driven schooling is what doesn’t happen. By the time a child, especially a boy, has been processed through a 12-year system of coloring in the lines, sitting down and shutting up, they have been pretty effectively tranquilized. They are now ready to become employees…in a job they will hate.
The warrior heart….the explorer heart of a boy has now been reduced to wage warfare with a photo copier and his greatest exploration will be to trek the suburbs in a mini van.
Not that there is anything wrong with those things but statistics show most folks would quit their jobs for something better in a nanosecond. I would hate to be a man today in America. They’re told to be “sensitive” but yet they’re the ones we call for when something goes bump in the night.
When I look at the glazed eyes of the middle aged clerk at Wal Mart I often wonder what might have been if they had been given the opportunity to become fully alive.
When I see the young professionals meeting over a hurried $7.99 sandwich, I wonder how many of them are going to wake up in 25 years and realize they hate their careers…..their lives.
I wonder how much exploration will not take place because future Shackleton’s were told to focus on good grades. Or the Rembrandt’s that will never be because they were told to “get a responsible job.” Or the dreams that will never happen because kids are too busy with twaddle to dream them. Or the brilliant kids with labels that think they’re dumb.
I think about Shackleton’s bravery. And I think about the two deer who crashed into a school, wild and full of life….to leave tranquilized.
The things that haven’t been done before; Are the tasks worthwhile today; Are you one of the flock that follows, or Are you one that shall lead the way?—-from the poem, The Things That Haven’t Been Done Before by Edgar Guest