There's a set of steps and a big stone fireplace sitting in the middle of the woods where I used to walk my dog. I can envision the family living in the house that was part of the neighborhood that got washed away when the Farmington River overflowed its banks in 1955. My exploration led me to the origin of those steps.
We're hard-wired to explore. It makes sense: our ancestors would not have survived absent the drive to seek food and safety from the dangers of the day. Safe and satiated, they later sought new lands to conquer and later still, to escape the constraints and cruelties in the age of rapid industrialization.
Today, we don't think there are many places left to explore. So we climb Machu Picchu, camp at the base of Mount Everest, and hike through the Amazon rainforest in search of our own experience of El Dorado.
It doesn't have to be that way. If you aren't ready to sign up for that first trip to Mars, and you're tired of exploring the geography of your inner soul, there are many lost civilizations still to be found. It's less about finding new land, and more about looking under your feet for that stray arrowhead or shard of old pottery.
In the end, we're never more fevered to explore than when we feel the constraints of our current circumstances. If American politics lately have left you yearning to explore, first explore this show. It might spark you to explore Europe or Asia or Africa...or maybe find your own set of steps in the woods.
- David Grann - Staff writer for The New Yorker, author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon and most recently, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
- Hugh Thomson - Writer, filmmaker and author of many books including The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland and A Sacred Landscape: The Search for Ancient Peru
- Kathryn Schulz - Staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
Colin McEnroe contributed to this show, which originally aired on June 1, 2017.