After months of speculation since my selection for ClimateForce Antarctica Expedition 2018, it finally became a reality on Feb 28th when we set sail for Antarctica. I had goosebumps thinking about what is ahead of me: extraordinary marine and ocean life, song and dance of the Drake, magnificent but dangerous icebergs and endless view of ice on the Antarctic Peninsula. The rest was beyond imagination. During this voyage there were “Aahaa” moments and moments of “self-reflection.” There were times when I was speechless and there were times when I had tears of joy. There were times when I could hear from own breath creating barriers for me to listen to the magical sounds of nature. This greatest wilderness on the planet surfaced various emotions in me and I learnt a great deal from this pristine continent.
It is so easy to lose our true self with the fast paced city life that we almost forget to stop and reflect. Walking on the islands amongst Adele and Gentoo penguins and gazing at the glaciers and icebergs gave me an opportunity to just absorb everything around me, digest and reflect.
Disconnect to Reconnect
As a millennial who works for a High Tech company and is surrounded by the highest end gadgets all the time, this couldn’t get more real. With no internet and connection to the outside world, the more I got closer to nature, the more I got disconnected. Just listening to the various sounds be it the ocean waves, penguins jumping into the water, whales spouting bushy stream of water, birds chirping and passing by, water hitting the icebergs and fur seals playing merrily in their empire was absolutely therapeutic. I felt more energized and connected to the nature than I ever did before and I am confident to look at it differently from now on. When I came back to civilization, I could pay attention to the trees around me, the dried leaves that fell on the ground, the dew on shrubs in the morning and the soothing wind touching my face. It feels sooooo magical.
The 1st Matters
There was nothing like the joy of seeing the 1st iceberg even though I saw many more gorgeous icebergs with unique personalities thereafter. If I close my eyes, I can still bring that 1st iceberg to life. Just looking at this 1st iceberg got me thinking that we only need to have grit and courage to take the leap of faith and follow our passion regardless of it being done before or not. Only because I could do it, I am now able to create a ripple effect in my ecosystem and inspire so many people in my ecosystem to “be the change.”
I spent significant minutes if not hours just observing Penguins trying to reach out for the flags that were temporarily used to mark the territories for us to walk. It was amazing to see these little adorable creatures to be so curious to notice a sudden change in their habitat and hover around the area to explore what it was. Being curious and inquisitive gives a sense of relevance and brings about awareness to the changing dynamics in our surrounding and environment. It must become an integral part of us to acknowledge that the climate is indeed changing for worse and be curious about how can we individually make a positive impact to reverse the effects of climate change.
Empathy & Respect
Acknowledging that “Antarctica” is not my home and being respectful of the ecosystem be it the marine life, birds, wild mosses was an absolute must to keep Antarctica in its native form. It brought about a realization that we all are different, coming from very different backgrounds and we all deserve to be respected for who we are and where we come from.
Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind
I never felt more scared than seeing such gigantic icebergs silently floating in these vast endless Antarctic waters. While these are absolute piece of art and beauty, human interventions are causing these big blocks of icebergs to melt, disappearing to cause rising sea levels and thereby eliminating complete civilization from islands. While many of us may never go to Antarctica, the glaring impact of our actions “right here-right now” is causing irreversible impacts in the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica. I will share more about it in my next blogpost.
Nature has so much to teach us only if we intend to listen. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this place and really hope to relive these moments over and over again. What I took back with me is my commitment to make a positive impact to retain the authenticity of the landscapes around me where ever I go. It is not over yet. It is just the beginning….