For a while I wondered if I should share this photo. It’s from my first night in Egypt, and it does a terribly great job at being a terrible photo of me feeling terrible. The afternoon of the next day I rushed to the hospital with a laundry list of symptoms. I was tired. I was depressed and I was scared. As painful as the experience was, and as painful as posting this photo is; it’s important.
As you all know, Project Iko is about engaging with the world. It’s about leaving comfort zones. It’s about doing new things. Most importantly, it’s about living creatively. But what exactly does ‘living creatively’ mean in terms of this project? Yes, it does mean traveling to new lands and cities with a desire to learn and see the world.
But bear with me for a moment. You see, it goes deeper than that.
It’s about engagement. To better explain what I mean, lets talk about the space programs of the world, and specifically lets talk about the moon and Mars. Over the last fifty years, The US (as well as the former Soviet Union) spent billions and billions of dollars sending probes into outer space. Soviet Russia sent probes to Venus while the US has sent a handful of rovers and satellites to Mars and beyond. The sheer volume of understanding we’ve gained as a species from these devices could fill libraries. Even the first failure to land an object on Venus proved, as it evaporated on entry, that such a beautiful planet named after a goddess of beauty was in fact a cauldron of sulfur and poison. Yes, we’ve learned a lot, and we will continue to gain more information to push the boundaries of the entirety of human understanding. But there’s something very key missing from the puzzle.
That key is very human.
Ask any astronaut who has stepped foot into space and on the alien territory of the moon and they will quickly confirm the experience, in personal terms, goes far beyond the sheer collection of knowledge. Beyond personal experience, the American people felt a jolt of patriotism at watching our guys plant a flag on the pearl in the sky. More importantly as humans, we can all look up into the sky and say that someone, someone very much like us visited that disc so far away. That experience. That understanding of another person’s experience is key. The sand beneath your feet on the beach, the flirtatious glance across the room, the feeling of discovery and arriving somewhere new. That is life.
Science is beautiful and elegant in an unmovable and eternal way. With science, we have built a world of exponentially growing knowledge. I try everyday to soak up a fraction of that knowledge and I encourage others to do the same. I travel. I meet new people. I visit ancient temples and I discuss the edges of human understanding whenever possible. But that’s not what this project is about. No, this project is about the experience of traveling. The experience of meeting new people. The experience of seeing ancient temples and the experience of in-depth discussions.
Of course, I hope my small existence inspires others to go after their dreams. But I hope, above all, that someone reading or watching this project has just a shred or flicker of feeling akin to when I look up at the moon and laugh knowing that someone went there, and possibly many more will do the same in their own unique way. That’s life. And that’s what this project is all about.