Jane Goodall, Journey On

Michael Christopher Brown/Magnum, for The New York Times. Jane Goodall on Lake Tanganyika, offshore from Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

Michael Christopher Brown/Magnum, for The New York Times. Jane Goodall on Lake Tanganyika, offshore from Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

A journey to Greece in 1969 planted a seed in me that grew into my life’s ambition. Another in 1983 led to meeting Amie, and fusing our life’s ambitions together. Together we went to Costa Rica in 1995, which led to continuing our joint life’s journey abroad.

Jane Goodall Is Still Wild at Heart

Half a century ago, she journeyed into the Tanzanian jungle to change how the world saw chimpanzees. Today the world’s most famous conservationist is on a mission to save their lives.

I believe in the power of a journey to change one’s life path. In the story that follows, this woman’s singular life’s journey is just one more example, albeit an extreme and heroic one, of why we believe in the power of a journey. She visited Cornell while I was a graduate student, and Amie and I were deeply moved by what she came to say. Seth was a one year old and Milo was not yet a “twinkle in the eye.”

The child-sized t-shirt we bought to support the Jane Goodall Institute with our limited graduate student funds was passed from older brother to younger until neither of them could fit into it any more, by which time we were well into our new lives in the emerging field of entrepreneurial conservation in Costa Rica.  In no small part, our family’s dedication to conservation is an unexpected outcome of a short journey across campus that Amie and I made to listen to Jane Goodall talk about her long life’s journey.

Excited and apprehensive, she boarded the ship, the Kenya Castle, with her mother and uncle, and together they inspected the vessel, circling its decks, looking out the porthole in the room she would occupy for the better part of a month. Then her family departed, and at 4 in the afternoon, the ship cast off. Twenty-four hours later, as most of the passengers were suffering from seasickness on their traverse across the Bay of Biscay, Jane Goodall was at the prow of the ship — “as far forward as one could get,” she wrote to her family. Her letter also recorded, in a detailed manner that foreshadowed the keen observational skills she would bring to her research as well as the literary bent she would deploy in reaching a broad audience, how the sea changed color as the bow rose and fell with the waves. “The sea is dark inky blue, then it rises up a clear transparent blue green, and then it breaks in white and sky blue foam. But best of all, some of this foam is forced back under the wave from which it broke, and this spreads out under the surface like the palest blue milk, all soft and hazy at the edge.”…

Read the whole article here.

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