An interview is not just for the benefit of the interviewer, as I was recently reminded when I gave an interview to Orla O Muiri for Beyond Limits magazine. As well as forcing you to reassess your own ideas, motives and achievements, having questions fired at you from someone else’s perspective can say a lot about the assumptions of that interviewer. And that, in turn, can say a lot about the way you have presented yourself; what your ‘public face’ looks like.
I spent quite a portion of this interview trying to defuse an underlying assumption that I was some kind of legendary overachieving extreme sports fanatic, which I am most definitely not. Since I answered these questions I’ve spent some time going through this site in an attempt to ensure that this isn’t the portrait I’ve painted of myself. It’s a difficult thing to balance, as there is always going to be a degree of mismatch between the writer and the reader. I hope I’ve got it roughly right.
In any case, do enjoy the full interview. Grab a cup of tea — this might take some time.
What are your emotional motives behind your adventures?
Mostly I go on adventures to satisfy my own curiosity. But what I’m curious about has changed since I started. On my first trip I was naive and idealistic, so everything was interesting and new and it broke my preconceptions. As time went on I became curious variously about my own endurance, my ability to tolerate discomfort, whether places in the world would live up to my fears, how it would be to learn a completely new language, how I might best communicate this whole process to those who stayed at home – so it’s curiosity and satisfaction at the root of it all.