Daniel Fox is a truly great adventurer. He’s an avid photographer, extreme kayaker, bold explorer, and the founder of the Wild Image Project – an endeavor he created to inspire people to interact with nature and tap out of today’s fast-paced, technology-driven environment. A true wild man, Fox is always seeking to understand and spread the joys of nature. His photographs are award-winning for capturing breathtaking moments in the wild. He’s definitely living life to the fullest and really taking it all in.
His current adventure is kayaking 1,000 MILES from Victoria, British Columbia, to San Francisco, California in a period of 2 and a half months. This herculean feat is all to raise money to send underprivileged teens to attend a 30-day sea kayaking camp in Alaska with the National Outdoors Leadership School. You can track and support his mission through his Indiegogo page here.
Just before embarking on his journey last week, we asked Fox about his adventures, outlook, and inspiration. His deep responses were moving, challenging, and made us want to hop on a plane up north, grab a kayak, and join him.
Image via Daniel Fox
What do you do for a living?
I am a storyteller, an explorer, an artist. My mission is to bridge nature and its teachings to the public (through photography, writing, and videos). Wilderness is my studio, it is where I create and find my inspiration. I believe that nature has the power to restore the human spirit and I do everything I can to spread that message. In today’s world, we consume nature the same way we consume everything else, with ease, quick and in quantity. We want the benefits delivered instantly and in the shortest time possible. But nature demands commitment and a humble and open mind if we are to receive its restoring power. I work at promoting a certain balance between our fast-pace-technological mind and the disconnected-in-the-moment reality of the wild.
Image via Daniel Fox
What do you live by?
4 words! STOP. BREATHE. RELAX. LISTEN. Happiness is the capacity of being in the moment and appreciate what you are doing, who you are with. How can we feel good about ourselves and life if our mind is never present, constantly worrying about other things. That is the intent and exercise behind my Minute of Nature video series (see bottom of post for video). After sharing something insight I present 60 seconds of unedited nature footage, asking people to disconnect just for a minute. I had some friends suggesting to me that I should narrate over the footage but that would defeat the intended purpose of being content with nothing but one thing – be in the moment. It is okay to live our modern and technological lives, doing several things at the same time and constantly connected to the network, but we must also be capable of stopping once a day, taking a deep breath, relaxing and listening to the world and people around us.
What advice do you have for people who want to become explorers?
You don’t have to climb a mountain to be an explorer. Marcel Proust said it so well: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” For me being an explorer is having the courage to go beyond your comfort zone. To seek the unknown. I believe that everybody can be an explorer. We all have our own comfort zone to break from and explore. We can’t expect everyone to kayak solo for a month, hike for 10 weeks or sail across an ocean, but we can inspire people to expand their beliefs by going to places they haven’t gone or doing things they haven’t done.
What/Who inspires you?
Besides finding inspiration in life and nature, there are 3 people I greatly admire.
David Attenborough – Nature
Back in 2010, I had the immense privilege of lunching with Sir David Attenborough. While visiting London, a mutual friend of ours called me and invited me to pass by his gallery, saying that he was going for lunch with David and wanted to know if I wanted to join. For three hours, the three of us chatted, feasted and drank. Despite his fame and resume, Attenborough exemplified humility. Over his very long career with BBC, he has traveled to the remotest places on earth, covering almost every inch of the planet. To this day, in his late 80’s, Sir David still works on projects he feels passionate about. He lives in a simple house outside London and walks where he wants to go, or takes the cab when it’s raining. He doesn’t have a chauffeur. He doesn’t have a team of managers and publicists around him, handling his life and filtering the public. If you write a written letter, he will write you back guaranteed. Despite being pressured by the conservation movement, Attenborough has always been clear on where he stands. It was not his job to publicize his opinion, his job was to report and present the animal world to the public. His professionalism and ethic are remarkable. His integrity and humility are commendable.
Jiro Ono – Purity
In a small corner of a subway station in Tokyo, one will find the best sushi restaurant in the world. This humbling and subtle man has dedicated his life to seeking the essence of sushi. Despite being internationally praised and the focus of the acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Ono, now 87 still takes the subway to work every morning and oversees nearly every facet of his restaurant—from planning the seating arrangements to the menu. “You must dedicate your life to mastering a skill. This is the key to success.” It is one of the things I have always loved about the old Japanese culture – whether it’s calligraphy, tea, flower arrangements or sushi – the ability to simplify to the essence and reveal the purity of the moment, of the object, of life.
Steve Jobs – Vision
From the moment he saw his first computer, Jobs understood what the future could be. For a long time, his vision was limited by the available technology. But once it finally caught up, Jobs reinvented our relationship with computers, music and the telephone. His obsession for simplicity created a unique esthetic and combined with his understanding of how we interact with the things around us, he reshaped the world. At Pixar, he applied the same values and unveiled to the world the essence of storytelling, producing masterpieces.
Image via Daniel Fox
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I just turned 40 and I couldn’t be happier. My life is getting better and better. My greatest accomplishment is certainly that I have been able to age and keep my dreams, passion for life and a certain naivety. I feel like my life is only beginning – I have so much to look forward to. Our culture lives in the past, glorifying the old days and glooming about the future, so how can we expect people to be happy? We have to embrace our journey and believe in hope, in ourselves, and in our tremendous capacity to learn from the darkest places.
Most defining moment of your life?
Embracing who I was, in its entirety – the good with the bad. It was a long journey but so worth it. That day when I finally looked in the mirror and saw someone who had so much to give and love, someone who was proud of his journey and felt good about what he could bring to this world, not feeling guilty anymore about the things he couldn’t be or do. Guilt is the most powerful poison in the world. It really hinders our capacity for happiness and greatness.
Here’s one of his stunning and scenic Minute of Nature videos.