Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Interview by Tuyaara Linnala; Avoid the negative one´s

You were quite an extraordinary person since you were small. The accident on the ferry proves it, when you said “I just had to see what it was like on the other side”, or when you hitch-hiked to India at the age of, OMG, 17! I felt myself like a hero when I went to Brazil alone at the age of 16 by an exchange program, but that not even close. What is inside you? What makes you to go somewhere without any fair? No “IFs”?

Just curiosity. Always many if:s, but I still go. I have many fears, but I am really genuinely interested what is there on the other side of the fence. By which I mean, venturing into the “unknown”. People today says there´s nothing to explore, no unknowns. This is wrong.  Life is forever changeable, by which I wanna say, that even though there´s few unexplored places, like the oceans, if we take Yakutia as an example and Yakutsk. It is almost a completely different city in every sense compared to the first time I went there 2005. Places like people change.

How everything started? Was there a point on your life when you have realized that “this is it, I am going to explore the world!”?

Through reading as a 10 year old. I was home from school, having some illness that children have, when I discovered that we actually had 3 books in the family. My dad was a brick layer and my mum, a home mum, we were not an intellectual family. I read those 3 books, james Fenimore Cooper and Jack London and it changed my world. 

How do you see the life? Because I am trying to understand it (perhaps, that useless), to follow my heart or prestige – to be “cool” in the eyes of society?

I see life as a short privileged that each human being have and we have to use every second on it living to its fullest. One has nothing to lose but following this principle. It will annoy family, friends and other people on and off, but such is life, whatever choice you take. Even if you just survive by doing nothing.

You remind me a Forest Gump! J You just cycled to understand the life? I was absolutely amazed when I read this: “But, I also realized that I didn’t really understand anything and that I needed to continue cycling. Which I did. Another 5 years”. When I don`t understand something I try to analyze. What exactly you tried to understand?

The meaning of life. I still don´t understand it. Very few do. But I am trying to add more pieces of the puzzle every day. And I like what I discover.

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Do you feel the difference between yourself and people who have steady, stabile life at the same place for their entire life? Or when someone says things about countries or cultures they have no idea about, except the TV?

Of course.  I only socialize with people who are opened minded, inspiring and love life. Except the family of course, they´re there, and you can do nothing about them. This is a very clear choice. I don´t do work which only drains me, like for example motivational speaking, many times I feel drained of all the energy I have, having given my all, and have received little in return except money. It is not worth it. I only lecture today when I know I will get vitalized myself in return.

I also know there´s a lot of jealous people out there, many of disagree with me as a person, for various reasons, but I avoid them.

What lesson of life could you share with me?

Just appreciate every little moment you have on this precious earth and don´t listen to people with a negative attitude. Not even your family. Pretend to be listening, but let it go in through one ear and out through the other and get on with your visions and life.

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You mentioned how important it is not to judge other people. For example, a guy from Siberia, who killed so many people, but still is a good man? Someone would think “it is not possible, he is dangerous” and this opinion also would be right. How wise and beyond one can be to see and accept all people the way they are and really don`t judge.

The major lesson of my travels is that all humans are good. Circumstances sometimes make people do the wrong choices, but we shouldn´t judge. Who is perfect? If you let such issues strike fear in you, it will cripple you and you will become one of the negative. Which is a disaster!

 You also said that in Siberia everything is “normal ‘no”J, what were those lessons of life for you?

Basically, life is the way it is, don´t complain, get on with it. It could be worse.

You wrote on your blog this phrase: “When I am starting to get too comfortable, I immediately think: Mikael, remember, and never forget, that life is too short. Get out there and live! Nobody is going to thank me for not doing it!” What does it mean? What is “too comfortable” for you?

Getting to comfortable is when you have made your way into what most people strive for, a settled life. A flat, a car, a steady income, an insurance, security on paper, social acceptance, maybe money…I don´t want this life and I am lucky to have a family and wife which agrees. Less things, less luxury, a simpler life and always challenges so one doesn´t forget to be on your toes. And forget to live. We, e.g my family, we have kind of reached this type of settled life now and we have decided to move on into the zone of unknown again. Just for the challenge.

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“To live the full capacity!” everybody dream about it, but why not all can reach it?

Too many fears what others would think.  Too needy of all modern comforts of life. The need of a social position. Selfish ambitions ahead of important matters. Too judgmental.

Who is a true explorer?

The one who understands that exploration involves in the everyday issues of life!

I know that you travelled to Yakutia and you said something like “it is the coldest place on the earth, but the warmest at the same time with its people”. I am happy that you have seen Yakutia! What this expedition gave to you?

Well, I first spent a year in the Kolyma and fell in loved with it. It was all a dream. The best people, the best food, great history in every way, never boring, but I have realized after this latest visit to Yakutia, that since I always moved from one place to another, always only met people at their best, it wasn´t fair to judge it as good as that. No, after 3 months in Yakutia and the Chabarovsk region half of it living the harsh life of Eveny reindeer herders, and with three independent minded, ambitious Yakut men, I have a better image.  A more just one. But I still love this region and its people.

But there´s quite a big difference between the indigenous people and the Sakha and white Russians. The Sakha is very much Russianized and Westernized and have all the good and bad traits we have. The indigenous Siberians are purer of heart.

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How it is to be an explorer for 25 years?

Challenging but a privilege.

Sometimes after living in a big city, I feel like I am becoming skeptic, egocentric and indifferent   to other people cares. Thankfully, I immediately see it and stop it. Have you ever had this sort of thoughts?

All the time.

You should be in the commercial of professional camera!

I don´t want to!

“1989-1992 He went by bicycle from Norway to South Africa a distance of 33,000 kilometers, passing through the Sahara Desert. It took 3 months to push the bike through the dessert, with the help of only a manual compass” – How did you do that???? What gave you so much courage to do all that? No fear at all?

Always  fears, but I conquer them, take the challenge and do it.

What you were thinking about, when it was close to -60 degrees Celsius?

It is scary but beautiful! What a privilege!

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Tuyaara Linnala writes this about herself: I believe that all of us have some story to say. An incredible story! Luckily, I was able to meet some of them, who have to tell something interesting. Whether it is happy story or sad, I think, each of us can take something from it. I like to meet absolutely different people and I find each of them unique and amazing. Perhaps, what normal for one is an absurd for another, but that’s what is exciting. We are different! We have different point of views and it is useless to fight about it. I believe that we should accept people the way they are and see good sides in them, rather, than the negative. So, one day the idea crossed my mind: “why not to write about these people? About my friends, who inspire me in some way?”

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