There are many different ways of exploring. There’s the exploration of the familiar with the desire to dig more deeply than ever into the familiar in order to discover the unfamiliar.
The language of 17th, 18th, and 19th century classical music is one of familiarity to those of us trained in that language, and its very familiarity is what motivates us to seek the unusual, unique, and unexpected.
Then there’s the desire for what’s new, the desire for stimulation by what has never previously been experienced. This is the desire to understand a new language, to heighten one’s perception of what had previously meant little or nothing.
Exploration is fueled by adrenalin. Adrenalin is provoked by a sense of danger, desire. Observation is cool. Exploration is warm.
I remember the experience of climbing Mt. Katahdin in Maine at age 12 or so. The summit was aswirl with clouds and fog, the “achievement” of having climbed the mountain was thrust into a language of instability and danger.
But there was a 12 year-old’s strong, innocent impulse to celebrate having conquered the mountain. Fit and strong for a 12 year old, I started running down the mountain, exhilerated by my ability to adjust to the variety of mountain surfaces. Running downhill with the friendly assistance of gravity created a beautiful fantasy world of being god-like.
While in this nirvana I must have tripped or slipped though I have no memory of having done so. I do remember being airborne for a second or so, falling four or five feet to land on my back on grass between two enormous mountain boulders. My fall between the rocks, and my landing on what was essentially soft, grass-infused soil at an elevation of 5,400 feet, was divine good luck. I was able to get up with no pain awareness whatsoever, and continued down the mountain with only a slight reduction in my belief that I was a 12 year-old god.
To my surprise, about a half hour after my fall, I discovered that I had scratched the surface of the pinky on my right hand. It was a tiny wound, but one that took a couple of weeks to heal and, because it was right on top of one of the joints where the skin was thin, resulted in a scar that I can still look at with appreciation.