“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I want to live my life with a big heart and a small ego.

Silvery waves crash onto rocky grey shores, white icebergs float majestically on the silent water. The vast expanse of landscape is beyond what you can possibly fathom. Yet I am here, completely in awe.

Antarctica is a dream to me. Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible voyage was my favorite childhood bedtime story. I dreamt of conquering the giant waves and stirring ice and surmounting the extreme territory with my hands and feet. Antarctica is my last continent to visit, but it is the ultimate challenge.

When I finally set foot in this icy place, I expected the freezing temperatures, the vastness of space, and the alien landscape. I did not expect the ancient nature, the absolute serenity, and the utmost innocence. I bow down my head and close my eyes, humbled and inspired, tranquil and calm. It is the most wonderful feeling I've ever had.

I've grown up always striving to be bigger, stronger, faster. But Antarctica teaches me to be small. Here, ego is diminished and anxiety subdued. I realize a strong mind achieves and is not solipsistic; a peaceful heart aspires and is not anxious. It is immensely profound.

— Helen Ruiqi Zhang