Philosophy for Polar Explorers

Looking at some of the other reviews, I’m glad I read this one as an eBook.

I’ve read another of Erling Kagge’s books, Silence, and was blown away by how clear and profound his understanding was of life’s unspoken moments. I found out that this book was written many years prior and I was doubtful that his thoughts and writing would be as refined as his second book was.

I was very happy to find this book just as clear and full of profound wisdom as his later book.

Kagge talks about his experiences and observations gained from his experiences travelling to the Poles and even Mount Everest. On some of these occasions he did not even take a phone with him in case of emergencies. He preferred to remain completely alone with nothing to sustain him but three: his food, his will and his grit.

Amongst his reflections was that courage in of itself presupposes that fear exists beforehand. There can be no courage without the sense of fear pervading through one’s mind. Courage is when you act despite the deep void in your chest instinctively pulling you back and away. Interestingly, he compares the courage normally associated with the feats he takes part in with the courage often required by everyday people in everyday life. Though his achievements are astounding to any who know what he has done, Kagge notes that they all have a finish line, whether its reaching the South Pole or climbing the top of Mount Everest, at some point, the task is completed and the danger has been conquered. But there are those who have to face emotional and mental dangers daily which by all means are just as hard, they dont end when you reach a fixed point such as the peakl of Everest. It was nice to see such a man with the experience Kagge has acknowledge and accept this.

Another reflection I found poignant was the belief that the amount of preparation you do beforehand is proportional to the opportunities that you may find in your work in future. I’ve always ascribed to this understanding, in that the more you prepare, the better your chances are at seizing the opportunites that may arise along the way.

We must also understand the clear distinction between what is impossible and what is only improbable. The difference between the two is night and day, and understanding it is what allows us to push our boundaries as individuals and as a race. The world we live in today may have been seen as impossible not so long ago. We travel to distant lands in hours when it would have taken months/years previously, imagine if we believed it would be impossible and we never tried? Understand the difference and always push your boundaries.

Ultimately, I very much enjoyed this book, being myself someone who enjoys hiking in the mountains. I was able to feel Kagge’s clarity and deep understanding regarding many issues, and his thoughts are always a breath of fresh air to someone living in the hustle and bustle of a major city. Kagge has established himself as one of my favourite authors and I look forward to reading his other books.

Recommended read!

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