Mike Horn in his own words


Explorer and adventurer Mike Horn has developed an interesting perspective on a number of topics during his life's travels. Here are some examples of his views:

Horn on space travel:
"When I started, the plan was to do an exploration to get to know all the elements. That's why I went to the North Pole, crossed the Amazon jungle, swam down the Amazon River … went to the South Pole and then crossed the desert and then to the mountains. Once I'd done that, I said, 'Wow. I've learned so much. What do I have to do next?' I would like to go to the moon.

"The European Space Agency asked to me come to a talk with the astronauts about adventure. I went to Berlin, and I had a big conference on adventure and my experience. For me, walking across Siberia for one and a half years alone is something -- more people have been to the moon than have done that. You're still on the Earth but you basically live in complete isolation.

"So I could relate to space exploration. They want to send somebody to Mars and put them on the eternal peak of light and build a structure for them to be able to survive when the Earth disappears so somebody from the human race is still up there for however many years they can survive. And that was the next thing that I was thinking I would like to get into. But then I thought about it, and realized that I still know so little about the Earth and there is so much more to see."

Horn on the will to win:
"My adventures have been to the extremes where I wasn't always 100 percent sure that I would come back home. When you leave to go to the North Pole in the winter, and you step off the last bit of land and onto the Arctic Ocean and you get swept away in that current and the ice is cracking and you can't see a thing because for the next three months you are in complete darkness, you learn -- if you are afraid of losing, you mustn't take that step.

"It's only when you can understand that the will to achieve -- our will to win -- is bigger than the constant fear we all have of losing. We are always afraid of losing our job or our house, our family or whatever, but you can't succeed if you are afraid of losing. That concept is what I would like to teach the younger people."

Horn on ecotourism:
"The thing with ecotourism is it has become a fashion. It's trendy. It's like, 'Today I'm going on an eco trip.' Ecology shouldn't be so closely associated with trendy and extreme living. It's about the environmental balance. It's about life.

"Adventure should be about learning something. If you go out in nature, you should come back with newfound knowledge about your world and yourself. That's what makes exploring to an extreme worth my while. I'm going out to find not only about nature but about myself. If you can use nature to travel inside yourself -- the inner travel of the human -- then you're really exploring. It's not about the trees and the grass; it's about you in the trees and the grass."

Horn on "the paradox of choice":
"Just get rid of the stuff, then you are free. We are all greedy. Human beings have a natural greed. The more you have, the more you want. You then look at what your neighbor has and you don't just want that; you want bigger and better than that. To want is only natural.

"But today, we were brought up with so much choice and we are constantly supplying. We create this artificial need for having things. And we create artificial to-do lists every day of our lives. And we convince ourselves that we have so much to do, we're too busy to do anything. We don't have time for our own lives. We don't do the things that really matter. We stop exploring, and we start collecting. We think that all our stuff will give us freedom. But in fact, the less you have, the simpler you stay and the more free you will be.

"It's hard to break away because we are afraid of losing. We think, 'I'll never have that again.' And then all of a sudden, when you don't have it, and you sit alone in a tent in the North Pole, you're just happy having that tent."

Horn on fixing the system:
"The pirates that are stealing cargo ships, I believe that they believe that it's their right to do that. And we allow them to do it because we give them the ransom and it just sparks more interest in that way of life. That's a new job. Stealing is great for the economy.

"In Africa, where I come from, wealthy people of South Africa buy their TV, their computer, their cellphone, their shiny car. Then people come down from poorer African countries, third-world countries, and they say, 'Wow, we want a big TV like this.' So, when you're out working daily to buy your TV and your new car, they come into your house, take the TV and put it in their shack. You come back home, look around and say, 'My TV is gone? Huh. I have to go and buy another one.' So he goes and buys another one. That's it. That's how the economy works.

"I'm not saying that I agree with stealing or taking from the rich, but all we see is the negative and we aren't identifying why it's happening or the way it works. That's why it's important to understand that the way we deal with this -- pirates, the crimes against the environment -- that is our fault. We have a responsibility to understand the process and the why."

Horn on sharing the message:
"I love waking up in the morning and thinking, 'S---, I'm going to the North Pole tomorrow.' That excitement that I live through is too much just for me. I want to share it. So I said, let's build a four-year program and let's take the kids to the South Pole, to Antarctica, to New Zealand, to Borneo, to the Himalayas, to Mongolia, to Kamchatka, to Siberia -- everywhere I can dream of, I can take them with me because I have the knowledge and I want to share it."

Mary Buckheit is a freelance writer based in San Diego. She can be reached at marybuckheit@hotmail.com.