Everything will be okay.
The Pangaea project.
What prompted you to start the Pangaea project?
It might sound a little bit dramatic, but back then I asked myself what we could do to save the world. And it didn’t take me long to realise that we would need to get young people involved – enthusiastic youngsters who still have their lives and actions ahead of them. One day, these kids will be able to change the hearts and minds of their own generation.
Because you introduced them to the beauties of their planet?
It’s more than that. According to science, especially good or bad moments have a long-term impact on our brains.
Usually, this happens when we are confronted with something entirely new. In this spirit, I want to instil my charges with a sense of dedication, success and self-confidence, i. e. qualities that will guide and shape how they will lead their later lives.
Meaningful use of the time we have.
And what, in turn, did you learn from the young explorers?
Until I started Pangaea, I had only ever looked inwards. Where are my limits, how far can I push myself? When you have another 15,000 miles to run, the only thought on your mind is “keep going, keep going, keep going.” It is not about sunsets, but survival! Ever since I started travelling with the young crews, I have viewed the world through their eyes – and developed a new appreciation for its beauty.
What drives you to keep pushing your limits?
I don’t need incentives to embark on a night-time trek to the North Pole. On the contrary. I can hardly sleep because I am so excited! I guess that’s hard for others to understand.
But then again, I find it just as difficult to comprehend how someone can drive the same route to the same office every day and sit down on the same chair – until they reach 80 and die. I would say – take your time to figure out how you want to spend your time.
A childlike adventure.
You seem to be quite a serious person. Did you ever have to laugh at yourself during your expeditions?
Sure. Usually at my own megalomania. When I’m out there on my own I have to keep my head occupied, otherwise I would go crazy. Sometimes I come up with some pretty great ideas – like Pangaea.
When did you realise that you were born to be an adventurer?
I must have been around eight years old when I set out on my bike to visit my uncle – who lived a good 200 miles away. When I wasn’t home by 6pm, my father guessed what I was up to. So he kept driving until he caught up with me. Not to stop me, but to show me how to do it right.
He really did that?
Sure, he knew something many people seem to have forgotten: you need to give your kids some wings let them learn how to fly. And a good home is like a safe haven and base camp from which to set out and discover the world.