Henry Worsley | Explorer

It was only yesterday that I learned who Henry Worsley was.  Sadly, in past tense, as he attempted a centenary trek across Antarctica.  Solo.  Unaided. Unfinished.  He was airlifted out and died from bacterial peritonitis. He was just 30 miles shy of his goal after trekking 71 days in an inhospitable area.

You can read a summary of Worsley's trip here at Explorer's Web News.  There is a website http://shackletonsolo.org/diary/ ; however that is not functioning this a.m.. though it was accessible yesterday.  Either it has been taken down or mobbed by interested people such as myself.  Nevertheless, you can view the Twitter account here (where they note that they are trying to restore the site).

My interest is not morbid.  Rather, Shackleton's journey 100 years earlier, captured in Lansing's book,  Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage is book is listed in my profile as one of my favorite books. As one Amazon reviewer titled his review, "Just When You Think Things Cannot get Worse, They Do" such is the book--and such was Worseley's experience.  Surprising, not one man was lost was lost over the Shackleton voyage. The feline and canines did not fare well, but that could not be helped.   If you are too ADHD or time strapped to read the book,  I would encourage you to read a good summary of Shackleton, the man and his frigid adventures here.

I was moved by Lansing's account of the extraordinary resilience of the men, both in body and spirit; the exemplary courage, leadership and sheer force of will practiced by Shackleton.  While any of the vignettes of getting trapped in the ice, trekking across mushy snow, having to kill and eat your beloved dogs, dispatch your feline to the Netherworld, crossing the channel to get to Elephant Island, sailing to South Georgia Island and then trekking three days across mountains to get to the whaling station and then finally having 3 false starts prior to rescuing the men three months after landing would be adventure enough...they endured all over 24 months and 22 days.

So with this important story to my personal (soft, flabby, comfortable) voyage through life, I, too, was moved by Worsley's adventure.  With Shackleton, there was the benefit of the team.  With Worsley, it was just him and the harsh elements.  Ultimately, his body failed.

These tales are hardship and perseverance against insurmountable odds are instructive--and a reminder that not all prevail.  That Worsely was stricken just 30 miles short of his goal reminds of the cruel twist of fate at worst--an indifferent Universe at best.

Nevertheless it reminds that it is not the end point that matters so much but rather the intention, courage, perseverance and hope that we have at all points previous.  Not all endeavors undertaken are successful--and it is a false conceit held by some that one can succeed so long as they have enough of this, that or the other.  Success, as any wise person would tell you, oft-times requires a bit of luck along with the necessary but happy (when one is motivated by one's work) drudgery.   Perhaps it is luck, not fate, that is fickle.  Sometimes it runs out or simply never showed up to the party.

As one crosses whatever line of demarcation of an event and is faced with a disappointing (tragic, even) outcome, one must ensure that there were no coulda-woulda-shoulda's.  If not, then fate must be accepted as it is--impersonal, objective. If so, then the fault lies solely with us.

Godspeed Henry Worsley to your next great adventure in the Universe.


Post a Comment