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No Barriers Podcast Episode 137: Beyond the North Pole with Dwayne Fields

about the episode

Dwayne Fields, along with our host Erik Weihenmayer, and a handful of additional elite explorers were tapped to guide actor Will Smith through some of earths greatest wonders and hidden secrets. This was for all National Geographics’s series Welcome to Earth. Dwayne is not your typical polar explorer that walks 400 miles to the North Pole (although he did that). Your typical explorer doesn’t spend the first decade or so of their life with the odds overwhelmingly stacked against them. Your typical explorer isn’t confronted with life and death in the form gang violence at a young age. Join us for this episode of gripping story telling, along with insights, laughs, and some inspiration you can take home with you. Away we go…

Episode Transcript

Dwayne Fields:
What I think is the best thing about the best explore adventures is they will laugh at themselves. They'll be soaking, wet, freezing cold, and they'll still find something to laugh about. And I think that's such a powerful thing for positivity and self. When we are sat at home in our sofas or sat in a chair, we are comfortable, we always assume that our limits are a lot closer than they actually are. And through the suffering and through the hardship and through the long, cold, wet, dry, hot days, whichever one it happens to be you learn that actually where you thought your limit was actually, you can go a lot further. And I think you can apply that learning to anything in your life.

Erik Weihenmayer:
It's easy to talk about the successes but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer, I've gotten the chance to ascend, Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent to kayak the grand canyon and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barrier's life to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way and not unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in the summit exists the map. That map, that way forward is what we call No Barriers.

Didrik Johnck:
Didrik Johnck, producer of the No Barriers Podcast here. I am so pumped for today's episode with explorer and naturalist, Dwayne Fields. Dwayne, along with our host Erik Weihenmayer, and a handful of additional elite explorers were tapped to guide actor Will Smith through some of Earth's greatest wonders and hidden secrets. This was all for National Geographic's new series, Welcome to Earth. Dwayne, is not your typical polar Explorer that walks 400 miles to the North Pole, although, he did that.

Didrik Johnck:
Your typical explorer doesn't spend the first decade of his life with the odds stacked against them. Your typical explorer isn't confronted with life and death in the form of gang violence at a young age. Join us for this episode of gripping storytelling, along with insights, laughs and some inspiration that you can take home with you. Away we go

Dave Shurna:
Welcome everybody to another episode of the No Barriers Podcast. This is Dave Shurna, I'm here with Erik Weihenmayer and we are thrilled to be joined today by Dwayne Fields. Dwayne, welcome to the show.

Dwayne Fields:
Oh, thanks. How are you guys?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Fantastic man. It's so cool to have you on the show. I mean, this is, I'm psyched because you and I met on this show that we did together called Welcome to Earth with Will Smith and I haven't met you in person yet, but we've had some virtual interviews together and then you were really nice to come on board with the podcast. It's not quite as much exposure as Welcome to Earth, we're not quite in the millions yet.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. I don't think most of the things on this planet are but listen, it's an honor to be here and I'm glad you asked me and to be honest I've got so much respect for you, the fact that I'm on here with you, I couldn't be happier.

Dave Shurna:
Dwayne, where are you dialing in from today?

Dwayne Fields:
So right now I'm in northern part of England actually, all the way up near Leads, just outside Leeds. So I did everything to make sure I'd be on this call today. Stopped what I was doing set up the computer, got the light over there, struggled with sound a little bit but I had to be on this call. I couldn't miss this one.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Nice.

Dave Shurna:
Awesome. Well, we welcome you from Leeds. I'm a big West Ham, Hammers fan and Leeds is often a tough game for us. So yeah. Anyway, Go back-

Dwayne Fields:
I love football but I don't know a single or I can play it a little bit but I haven't watched football for a little while now and you guys call it soccer, which is wrong.

Dave Shurna:
It's so true. I mean, why do we do that?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, our playoffs in football is happening right now and I have no idea what's going on either. So, we're in the same boat. But instead of watching sport words, you're out there doing different adventures. So first of all, start by telling everybody all the cool stuff you did with Will on the show.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. So Eric, do you know from experience what kind of guy Will is? Will is the kind of person that wants to push himself. He wants to step outside of his comfort zone, he wants to face that little bit of anxiety. That's exactly what we did on our show in Iceland. It was called Beyond Fear, in my episode with Will. We went kayaking down a river that's never been kayaked before and weirdly, this was the first time Will's ever set foot in a kayak. So if you imagine combining first time on water, a fear of water on a river that's never been kayaked that's the makings of a nightmare. We repelled the crisis.

Erik Weihenmayer:
You'd be know the guy who killed Will Smith, that'd be a beautiful legacy.

Dwayne Fields:
I had everything crossed. I looked down the river thinking guy, look, we've got some safety crews down on this river. I thought to myself, look, I cannot have that marked against my name here's likes Dwayne Fields, Arctic adventure also killed Will. That's that's not good for future work. So I said, "Look, we'll do everything, we'll do it safely. We'll have some fun, but we're going to overcome some of our fears as well." And that's exactly what we did. We repelled down inside a glacier.

Dwayne Fields:
Now, a glacier could be anything from 10 feet, 20, 100 feet, 1,000, 5,000 feet or more thick. And that's a massive slab of ice. We found a crack, a mulling, and we repelled down into it. It was pitch black. And it's the stuff that nightmares are made off Erik. You are repelling into a pitch black hole. You don't know how deep it is that there's water flooding into this hole. And to add to that, you've got the ice cracking as well. So you can hear the eyes shifting and cracking and again-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Dwayne not to brag but I'm one of the few people on earth that would not be freaked out by the pitch black of the cave.

Dwayne Fields:
Oh, well, do you know what, there's benefits to everything. But honestly, it was amazing, Erik. It was amazing. And do you know what funny enough, that's what I love about you Erik, you are not afraid to laugh about yourself. And I think I've answered so many questions today on other topics with another interview that I did. And one of the things I said was what I think is the best thing about the best explore adventures is they will laugh at themselves. They'll be soaking wet, freezing cold, and they'll still find something to laugh about. And I think that's such a powerful thing for positivity and self.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. You learn how to suffer.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. You do. You learn how to suffer and you learn how to enjoy yourself through your suffering as well, despite your suffering.

Erik Weihenmayer:
What do you learn from that suffering? What does it help you in the process of doing?

Dwayne Fields:
So the suffering, so when we are set at home in our sofas or sat in a chair, we are comfortable. We always assume that our limits are a lot closer than they actually are. And through the suffering and through the hardship and through the long cold we dry hot days, whichever one it happens to be, you learn that actually where you thought your limit was actually, you can go a lot further. And I think you can apply that learning to anything in your life.

Dwayne Fields:
So many people sit there thinking, oh, I'll never get that job because I don't have the skills. I can't get the skills because I don't have the time. And you only realize that you could and can and will, when you start on that journey and it's the exact same with any adventure or anything that you go on. As soon as you start, and take that first step, you realize, oh, this might be a little bit tricky but actually it's not beyond me. I think that's what I take away from these adventures. It just makes me feel like I can do so much more next time round because I've gone beyond what.

Erik Weihenmayer:
It's a wild line that you're pushing towards because I remember way back in 1995 climbing Denali, which is my first big mountain in Alaska. And I remember hearing about this lady who summited the mountain and came down and there's a flatter area below that called the football field. And she fell down and died in the snow from absolute exhaustion. And I remember thinking, okay, what point do you fall down and literally die of exhaustion? You know what I mean? At what point, what is that limit? And you and I, and a lot of people have flirted with that line and in a way that can almost feel or even scary.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. And you probably know this better than most. The closer you get to that line is almost the more alive you feel. And I always say to people, start your adventures, start small adventures. So you get to know yourself and you get to know what you can do before you reach that point of no return where that lady unfortunately reached.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah, you don't want to reach that.

Dwayne Fields:
To me about experience. No, you don't want to. Yeah. You want to be able to go home and have a drink off these expedition. You don't want to stay out in the field, but that's fundamentally here, isn't it. You want to know what your limits are so you can just push them just a little bit more every single time. And I think that's what these adventures are about.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. It's like pushing a car or bus up the mountain a little bit.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. I don't know about you, but I don't push many cars or buses on mountains. What do you know? I reckon what could it be.

Dave Shurna:
Although Dwayne, I did hear that your training for the North Pole expedition did involve some uncharacteristic types of tools that you use in the big city. You want to talk about that?

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. So way back in 2009, 2008, when I was prepping to walk to the magnetic North Pole, one of the things, I'm going to say inexperience. So one of the things that you do is, you go on Google and you do all this extensive research, which for me boiled down to about six minutes of Google searches. And one of the things I saw people doing was pulling tires and pulling logs and all these kind of things. It's great. It strengthens your core, your legs, your back. It's good exercise. I thought, look, Dwayne, if you want to be a polar Explorer, if you want to get to the pole, you need to pull something.

Dwayne Fields:
So I decided to go to a park near where I lived in East London, but I was still embarrassed about the idea. Because again, I'm a black guy, this isn't what black people do. I was told it so many times, black people don't go to the Arctic. And I thought, well, that's nonsense because I'm black and I want it to go. And I didn't have a clue how to do it. So I tied some tires to my back and I was still a bit embarrassed. So I did it at night when no one would see me and I started walking. And you know that point when you're exercising and your muscles start to ache and you're building up a little bit of sweat and you feel like you're really doing something.

Dwayne Fields:
So I got to that stage and I walked around the corner in Hackney Marshes and the scariest thing, the scariest sound you'll ever hear, it was the laughter of teenage boys, maybe eight or nine of them. And I thought, no, I'm embarrassed about this idea. They're going to mock me, they're going to laugh at me. And I paused. And before I could turn around, I heard one of them say, "Who's that? And what's he doing?" And at that point I was doomed. I realized that this is it. Dwayne, be strong, put your chest out, hold your head high and walk past them with purpose.

Dwayne Fields:
And that's exactly what I did and they laughed and the laughter got louder and I got smaller as I approached them and they made comments and they called me all sorts of names and they made so much fun of me. And then I ended up feeling like I was two inches tall. And needless to say, after that, I didn't go back to Hackney Marshes to doing more training, I went to another local park, which had a fence and it was gated. And I did my training after midnight now, which would guarantee there'll be a few people around.

Dwayne Fields:
That was a real setback for me but that's the kind of things that you have to find a way to navigate and overcome if you really want to do that, you think you want to do?

Erik Weihenmayer:
I mean, you absolutely broke out, we're going to back up in a moment, but I mean, since we're on this topic, I mean, you really broke out of your environment in a way, which is really hard to do. So is that probably a reason why some people don't break out of whatever their community is or what they're conditioned to do because you get around a bunch of people that box you in, perhaps?

Dwayne Fields:
Erik, you're spot on, the words you used there is conditioned. From a very young age, we are generally thought, go to school, get a trade, find a career and that's you. For me, it was exactly the same but I was hearing it from everybody. I grew up on an estate in England, which it was a deprived area that I lived in. So all my friends-

Erik Weihenmayer:
In the states, we call it the projects or something. Similar?

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. I've watched movies, so yes you are right. And I had a real good mix of friends that were black, Asian, Indian, Turkish, white, you name it, there was a good mix there. And when you come from a poor area, you tend to blend with whoever else is in that same situation as you. And we were all just led to believe that what we did was we hung around on this estate, we did next to nothing all day and even in we'd do next to nothing again, make our way home. And that's it.

Dwayne Fields:
The moment I said, I wanted to go to the North Pole. People started saying, "Are you okay?" As in, are you mad? Is something wrong with you? That's not what we do. And when they said, that's not what we do. It was the black people saying to me, "Black people don't do that." It was the white people saying to me, "We come from this area, we don't do that." And it was the Asian saying to me, "Oh, that's not part of our culture." So I was part of all these groups and all these groups all had one thing in common. We grew up in an area where there was high levels of deprivation, high levels of street violence. And everyone had a reason why we shouldn't do that, which they were conditioned to believe.

Dwayne Fields:
And I stereotypically, for the most part, I wanted to fit in, in life we all want to fit in. I wanted to fit in. So what you do, you keep your head down and you do what the state says. You do what the majority are doing. And it's so hard to go against that. One, because you don't want to stand out and going against that will leave you isolated and the human condition is not to be isolated. So it's the toughest thing. And sometimes you need either a pushing factor on top of wanting to do that thing or a pulling factor on top of wanting to do that thing because sometimes wanting to do it isn't enough.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. I mean, I grew up in the suburbs in the states and okay, we did the stupidest stuff and I did the stupidest stuff to try to fit in, drinking and shoplifting and just the dumbest things. But in the suburbs it's safe, it's hard to get hurt or killed or arrested. You know what I mean? Because you're privileged but in your situation, following the crowd could get you killed.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah, easily. I've seen more stabs than I can count. I've got friends who are in prison now or people who were of friends at the time who are in prison now for the things that they've done, everything from street basic, I want to say low level street violence but there's no such thing as low level street violence all the way through to murder and manslaughter. And I was almost there as well. I've got two stab wounds on my body, one in my lowest stomach, I got one just right there. I've had guns pulled on me multiple times. Those two stab wounds were enough, they could have killed me.

Dwayne Fields:
I got into a friend's car and he managed to get me to a bus stop at which point I was losing so much bloody had to stop the car. We called an ambulance in the ambulance, met us halfway and I was laid down at a bus stop and all I remember from that experience is not actually feeling the knife. It felt like a punch and I didn't even know I'd been stabbed just up here, even though there was so much blood. I remember holding my lower stomach.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Thank God for biology, you don't feel the pain at first.

Dwayne Fields:
Thank goodness. Yeah, it's the adrenaline, I mean, I don't carry a knife. I don't carry a weapon. Well, I didn't at the time anyway. Now the only knife I carry is is a tool. And I remember just using my shirt, I was feeling hot, I starting to feel really lightheaded and sweaty. And I remember using my shirt just to fan myself, just to release some of the air and coolness. And I felt it sticking to me and as I looked down, I saw the blood just rushing out every time my heartbeat. And I tapped my friend, I said, "Look" and I just remember him saying, "Oh, he's passing out. He's passing out." And I remember looking at him saying, "It's okay. It's not that bad." And moments later, I sat at a bus stop and just traffic was moving really slowly. It felt like I was talking normally, but everyone's telling me I was talking really slurred. And next thing I knew I was in an ambulance on my way to hospital.

Erik Weihenmayer:
And I understand you still have scars, pretty bad scars on your stomach and chest and stuff.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. It's really strange because every now and then I find myself rubbing my shoulder because it still hurts. Funny enough, the stab wound in my lower stomach doesn't hurt as much. Maybe it's because I saw that one come in. Maybe it's because I felt it, this one came as more of a shock but every now and then I do catch myself, just, oh look, oh, the flowers are out rubbing my shoulder because I can feel it. It's really strange.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. I read about that Phantom pain.

Dwayne Fields:
Absolutely. I even feel it, as well there's another incident involving a gun and again, I don't carry guns, I never carried a gun to hurt anybody. I've fired guns, I have a lot of respect for guns. I've fired guns the first time I've ever fired a gun I think I was 10 years old. And since then the first thing the person said to me is, "You never point anyone." And he yelled it at me to make sure it was drummed in. And he did the same for everyone else as sort of, and I'm going to go into that story in a little while, some more but I still feel every now and then I feel as if I'd been shot even though he pointed the gun at me, this guy and he pulled the trigger and he cocked it back and he pulled the trigger. I still every now and then feel like, oh God, is that well?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Just for everyone's sake, you got your moped stolen and you went and confronted the kid and he pointed a gun at you and it didn't go off, which is a freaking miracle.

Dwayne Fields:
Gosh. Yeah, exactly. So I built this moped from scratch, Erik. I put so much time and energy. It was winter, I sat... I was in a shed for three and a half, four months building this thing from scratch. I walked all over London, going from one scrap yard to the next, to find parts, to build this thing. And I built it on its maiden voyage, I rode it, I turned the steering wheel, the steering handle left the wheel went right and I went down the middle, crashed, rebuilt the thing.

Dwayne Fields:
And the next time around I sent my younger brother, I rebuilt it and sent my younger brother. I said, "Look, you go test drive it." Because that's what younger siblings are for. I sent him out there to this moped and he was pushed off of it. It was stolen. And Erik, I was so angry. I was so frustrated. I was so fed up. I think for me, this was the straw that broke the camels back. That was it. I didn't want to be part of this status quo anymore where you can have your things stolen, your hard work, your effort, your blood, your sweat and tears. I didn't want to be part of it anymore.

Dwayne Fields:
So I marched... It was the stupidest thing you could do. I marched onto this estate. And we will know when something's stolen in an area, we know exactly where it's going to end up, don't we? So I went to exactly this spot on this estate where I'm knew this bike would be and sure enough, there's seven or eight boys tearing this thing apart. And I feel like something broke inside me where it was like, "This is mine. I've just built that and you're destroying my work." And I felt so angry.

Dwayne Fields:
Like I said, it was the stupidest thing to do. I walked over and I grabbed a hold of the bike. And I said, "I'm taking it. It's mine." And for the most part, "They all said, take it, it's rubbish. We don't want it anyway." And at that point, that was a victory. I won. I marched onto someone else's estate and I got my property back. I should have left. Out of stupidity, out of frustration, out of just sheer anger, I looked around and one guy had a plastic panel just about 10 inches by about inch and a half.

Dwayne Fields:
Now I could have probably bought another one for about fiver. I could have ridden that bike happily without that bit on the bike forever. Didn't have any real purpose to the everyday function of the bike. I just wanted it back because it was mine. And I walked over and I said, "I'm taking that as well." And I took it. I smashed it out of his hand and I turned to walk away. So again, bear in mind, I won. I got my bike back, I turned to walk away and he pushed me, at that point, I could have carried on walking again, stupidity, frustration, anger. I turned around and I pushed him back. Why I did it? I can't tell you there was an eight, nine of them. They could have jumped me. I wasn't thinking.

Dwayne Fields:
And when I pushed him, he stumbled backwards and I think it was pride, it was embarrassment. He walked away and within about a minute or two, I couldn't tell you how long passed it wasn't long, he came back and at this point it was me and my younger brother were picking up all the bits and pieces that they'd torn off the bike. And I remember looking around and as I looked around, I saw him walking towards me and my instinct was this guy's got a knife, he's got a bat, he's got something hard.

Dwayne Fields:
I stood up and he raised his hand. He was about three, four, five, meters no more than that away from me, maybe 10, 12 feet. And he raised his hand and I could just see this dark colored gun. And I looked down, I promise you, I'm not saying it as a cliche, I could see down the barrel of that gun and it just looked huge. It just looked... I can't describe it any other way. It just looked menacing It just looked huge. And as I stood up, I pushed my brother to the side and I stepped to away and instinctively, I roll my hands and I said, "Look, you don't have to."

Dwayne Fields:
And before I could say that, he squeezed the trigger and when you've got a gun pointed at you, it doesn't matter what sound it is Erik, it doesn't matter whether it's opera singer, it doesn't matter if it's a piano or a flute, it just sounds like or more feels like there's a bullet coming towards you. So I've heard the click, I didn't think it was a misfire, I didn't think it was a dud. I just heard a click, heard a sound. This gun's pointed at me, there must be a bullet coming towards me. And I waited and he cocked it back and he felt like an age and he pulled the trigger again. And I heard another sound and at this point again, he's 10, 12 feet from me. I'm certain I've been shot, I just can't feel it yet.

Dwayne Fields:
And before he could do it a third time, I mean, I see the bullet come out the side and before he could do it a third time, some of the boys that were there grabbed him and said, "It's not worth it. It's not worth the bullet. Leave it." And they ushered him away and they leave me and my brother there just picking up the pieces and we walk off the estate and I remember stopping, maybe. We lived about eight, 10 minutes away. I remember stopping maybe three or four times and just tapping myself just to check. Have I missed it? Have I been shot and I've missed it?

Dwayne Fields:
And I was feeling really tight in my stomach when I got home. I remember on my phone, just a few text messages saying, we've heard what's happened. What are you going to do? We should get this guy. Oh, we know where we can get this. We know where we can get that. And I remember thinking to myself, well, actually, I'm just happy to be here and if I did get this guy, it would be me trying to fit in or me trying to live up to what's expected or me trying to play up to the crowd. And I don't want to be that guy.

Dwayne Fields:
And in truth Eric, at this point for the past 15 years since I was about seven years old, I've been playing up to the crowd. I remember the very first lie I told in my life and I told that lie in order not to stand out or not to be isolated or not to be alone. And I didn't want to do that anymore. And we all do it growing up don't we? We tell lies. Someone say, oh, do you like this? And you say, yeah, I like that but should we go left? And you think, well, actually I want to go right or everyone wants to go left. So I'll say I want to go left as well. And I feel like I'd done it so many times in my life that I was a little bit lost now.

Erik Weihenmayer:
But something in you stepped out of that pattern which is pretty rare and beautiful, that you somehow could see the pattern in some way. I'm sure you weren't thinking at that point, I'm going to go hike to the North Pole but something inside of you said like, this is a pattern that I can't get sucked into.

Dwayne Fields:
Well, the truth is I was already in that pattern of doing what the crowd of doing what my peer group wanted. And the pattern was, what would the crowd want me to do right now in order to fit in best? Because we all know how the in group treat in group and how the in group treat out group. I didn't want to be the out group. So for me, it was, Dwayne, everyone wants you to do this thing. You don't want to do this. You don't want to go and get this guy. You are happy that you are here. You've been given this huge opportunity, this second chance, third chance if you count each bullet and you know what you going to do with it.

Dwayne Fields:
And at that point, I said, first thing is first. Just stop for a minute, forget everyone for a minute and I became a recluse. So I stayed inside the house for about seven, eight, nine, 10 days. Didn't go out, didn't see anyone. And during that time, I said, "If you do anything to this guy, or if you try and get this guy, either you are going to get him and your conscience is going to be on you forever. You're going to be in prison. You are going to get killed yourself. Or, it goes even more pear-shaped and you have to leave the area." None of those options sounded appealing to me.

Dwayne Fields:
So I decided I didn't want to get him and that was the most difficult thing to do. When the crowd is saying, get this guy, you need to get him back. It's what we do. Someone tries to get you, you get them back. It's hard to go against that. And for me, it was a time alone and just saying, just be yourself.

Dwayne Fields:
And in that conversation with myself, where it was Dwayne, be yourself in this stand up strong. You used to be this bold daring guy when you was a kid in rural Jamaica, you were confident you were daring, you were bold, you was ambitious, go back to being that guy. And that was the decision that I had to make. I just had to choose to go back to being that person, as opposed to this person that bent to everyone's will or did what he thought everyone wanted him to do. And it's so tough when you have to go against, when you want to go against or choose to go against the things that people expect of you.

Erik Weihenmayer:
So, when you have that moment where you're thinking about that, I would imagine, I know when I went blind, I just felt like there was a brick wall in front of me. So when you have that moment of reflection, do you have to have something that you, okay, I want to break this pattern, I want to be that person, that deeper person, but do you have to have a pathway? Did you see some glimmer of a pathway of what the future might be differently? I mean, I'm sure it wasn't like I'm going to do X, Y, and Z. I mean, that was almost preposterous.

Dwayne Fields:
No, no. I had no clue. I felt more alone and more lonely than I've ever felt before. Despite being in a group, my friends and everyone around me, I always felt lonely. I've always felt that way. When I made that decision, I felt more lonely on those few days than I'd ever felt before. And to be honest, I felt okay with that and I think that made that transition that much easier. I didn't have a park where I didn't know what I wanted to do.

Dwayne Fields:
I just knew that the four, five, six year old Dwayne in Jamaica loved the outdoors. He loved lifting up that rock and see what was underneath it. He loved climbing that tree to the highest branches. And even though you could feel it swaying, and you're not sure if it can take your weight, you'd still go that little bit higher. He loved moving the log to see... Do you know what I mean? He loved having nothing but sky above. And for me that the overarching feeling that was stirring inside, it was like, how do you do that but do it as an adult here in England?

Dwayne Fields:
And it's stirred off of me, simply doing something here called the Three Peaks where you climb the highest mountain in Scotland, England, and Wales and the aim is to do all three in 24 hours. So I did that and I thought, look, this is great. I've just raised some money for a charity. I've been outside, I've been adventurous. I've pushed myself. I feel brilliant. This is awesome. And then it was like, what's next? And that's the question. I know you get asked all the time, Erik. There's always is that what's next? And for me, there wasn't anyone asking me that question, it was me asking myself and that's where that glimmer and that joy started to come in where it's like, how are you going to push yourself next. Okay, I'm going to do a charity run.

Erik Weihenmayer:
This is my most cheesy analogy in the history of podcast but when I was a kid, my favorite book was this book called The Bat-Poet. And this bat decides that he's going to stay awake in the daytime. Instead of staying up all night with his friends. And his friends think he's insane, they just don't get them. They scratch their heads, they write them off and he's like all alone. He wakes up in the daytime and he just comes awake to things that he would've never discovered. And he was lonely but he becomes a poet and you're The Bat-Poet, man.

Dwayne Fields:
Thank you. But honestly, it sounds about right. It sounds fitting is what I'm going to say. It sounds fitting, but yeah, no, honestly it was, Erik, it was the saddest and loneliest time of my life because I was on this path now, but I didn't know anyone else who was on that path. And the people around me, I was becoming more distant from them because I don't think they understood what I was doing or why I was doing it for what challenges I faced. And I think when you can't talk to people around you about the thing that's happening to you or within you or around you, it isolates you.

Dwayne Fields:
The thing that I'd feared for the past 15, 16 years, it was now happening. I was becoming more isolated and in that isolation, I started, it sounds so cliche, I just started to find myself. I started to discover what I liked and I liked what I was discovering about myself. And that gave me the impetus to keep going and to keep doing more. And I saw the impact it was having on other people who maybe didn't think they could or would or should do it.

Dwayne Fields:
I went to a local group and I said, "Look, guys, I walked to the North," and I was so anxious. I was like, "I walked to the North Pole and I just wanted to share this story with you." And weirdly, when I finished talking, they sat there and they listened to it and they loved the story and they loved the journey. And I thought, this is so great. This is what exploration is about. People going off, seeing things, experiencing things, and then coming back and sharing it with other people in their network, in their group, in their village, in their town. Do you know what I mean?

Dave Shurna:
Yeah, Dwayne, I love this moment that you're talking about where you make this decision. We often describe, we tap into this light that we all know we have inside of us that crave something different. A lot of our community resonates with that idea. They're in a situation they don't want to be in, they're surrounded by people that aren't the right people. You make this decision, you tap into it but you still need other people. So how did you go about transitioning out of that group of people that were around you that were the people that weren't on the right path for you to finding your new people who could help you on this new path? Tell us a little bit about how you made that transition.

Dwayne Fields:
Like I've said before, it's one of the toughest things that you can do because I didn't have anyone that I can call up and say, "Hey, listen, I want to go and be an adventurer." Everyone I said anything to about the North Pole would say something like, "Why would you do that? Doesn't make sense. Black people don't do that. You live in London man, we don't do that." So I was constantly being met with these dead ends and no-go zone and people that didn't believe. And in actual fact, when I first very first decided to do it, I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want them to have enough influence on me that it would change my mind.

Dwayne Fields:
Naysayers can be a powerful thing and if you are not confident about the thing that you're about to do, the naysayers will change your mind. And I didn't want that to happen because I genuinely believed in it, but I just didn't have the confidence in it yet. So one of the things I did was, I said, "Look, Dwayne, you're a person of word." So I told a local newspaper that I wanted to do this thing. Didn't tell any of my friends. And they printed the story and the date printed, I remember thinking, someone's going to call me and they're going to laugh at me and they're going to mock me and make fun of me.

Dwayne Fields:
And sure enough, one of my friends called me and he's like, "Oh, are you climbing a North Pole?" And without a word, I was so wound up and ready for the nos, and you're an idiot and this is... That I instantly jumped and said, "First of all idiot, it's not climbing a North Pole it's just a spot in the ground." And I just went on this rant just to shut it down quickly. And that was how I was charged up, I had my back up and I was ready to go.

Dwayne Fields:
And most people just said, look, you're not going to do it. You're going to lose bits and pieces, and again, it's that we don't do that. And we wasn't always just about being black, it was just about the community I was from.

Dwayne Fields:
The actual time it got cemented was, the moment that you... For me, I didn't believe it was going to happen until I actually stepped on that plane and arrived in Canada. And progressively went further and further north. And it was only when we set off on the day that we actually set off that. I said, "Oh my God, this thing's really..."

Erik Weihenmayer:
This is real.

Dwayne Fields:
I did get the money. I did the training.

Dave Shurna:
This is it. I'm going to see if that tire pulling exercise really worked.

Dwayne Fields:
Exactly. Yeah. All of that tire pulling is now I'm going to have to prove myself, did it work. But for me, it was so tricky because that transition you oftentimes you need a guide when you've gone through is something, you need a mentor, you need someone you can call on. And I didn't have that. So what I was doing was I was making the opposite, I went along and it was a lot of hope as I went along. And it was only after I came back that most people, I mean, of course, I had one or two people that believed I could do it and really supportive.

Dwayne Fields:
But when I came back from the pole, I remember sitting on the plane and thinking, oh my God, I did it. And then you start questioning. Was it that hard? Was it as hard as that? Or is it that I'm really good at this? Was it easy? Or am I really... You start playing these conversations from your head. And I remember getting off the plane and going back home ans people who'd said, oh, you can't do it, would come up and say, oh, you did it. Oh, well, good on you. Well done. And they slowly started to shift their attitudes to now saying, okay, well done you, and you can see the cogs turning as if, well, if he can do that, I wonder if.

Dwayne Fields:
And that's such a powerful thing to see that I wonder if moment. And you can see it in someone's eyes, you can see on their face, you can hear it in their voices when they believe that actually, maybe I can do more. And so, yeah, that's the transition for me, I didn't have anyone to call and I just had to rough shot it and make it up. As I went along, like I said-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Did you have some huge blunders along the way? I remember reading this book about this guy who snow shoot across Canada, and he was putting his snow shoes on the wrong way for 500 miles or something like that.

Dwayne Fields:
I had a lot of blunders. So now bear in mind, we walked over 400 nautical miles from a place called Resolute Bay to the magnetic North Pole. I think it was like the 97, 90, 97 position at the Magna. And I am not the greatest skier in the world. I mean, I can get around. So 90%, 95% of the journey was on foot and for me, just looking back up, I thought to myself, well, why didn't you just learn to ski better? And it would've been an easier journey. So there's that 400 plus nautical mile journey, that's one big blunder. I nearly set fire to my jacket, you get lazy on these journeys. You think to yourself, I'm going to cut a corner because it's freezing cold. I'm freezing cold. I'm tired. I just want to get some rest. What's the easiest way that I can do this?

Dwayne Fields:
And the easiest way is often in little bit more dangerous than the proper way. I set fire to a jacket here and there. We were approached by a polar bear. Had to fire off flares and just let off a few shots from the shotgun just to scare it off. I mentioned I had a musk ox now for anyone who doesn't know musk ox is this huge animal, it's not quite as big as a bison, but it looked re it looks a bit similar. I found a young musk ox, it looked like it was a week or so old. It was stuck on a ledge I rescued this animal. I've been rescuing animals from nature, I don't know why I do it. Rescued animals from nature for my entire life. I found this animal, I rescued it from this ledge and it decided I was mom.

Dwayne Fields:
So I've got this baby musk ox constantly trying to feed I'm pushing it away so get away, I don't have the operators to feed you. And for me, it was a blunder because, and I knew it was a blunder the day I had to leave that animal behind. We were walking for two or three days with this thing and it was falling behind and it was constantly screaming. And we were certain it was going to bring every polar bear in the region down and us. And it was the hardest thing. It was agonizing to let this thing go.

Erik Weihenmayer:
You couldn't feed it, you couldn't do anything for him, I mean, there's nothing you could do.

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. No, and emotionally, it was so draining to watch this little dark creature against this white backdrop just become this tiny little dot on horizon. And you could hear it crying. And every now and then I'd say, let's stop., Let's stop. And that was a blunder. I should have been firm with myself and said, no, leave it alone, let nature take its course. But in my heart hearts, I believed I'd get it to the top and it would run off and join the herd. And it was still so young, it decided I was mom and that was it. And that was a huge blunder on my part because it was seeing it go, my teammate broke down. It was horrible, but it's still out there fighting a good fight, I think.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. You tried.

Dave Shurna:
Dwayne, when you reached the North Pole, you became the second black man in history after Matthew Henson, who I understand was 101 year prior to you, Matthew was a... He was an orphan from Baltimore and he managed to become an explorer at that time-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Although Dave, he might be the first, because I heard Henson, they might have fallen short. So Dwayne might be the first.

Dave Shurna:
Okay.

Dwayne Fields:
So I read that.

Dave Shurna:
Was that an important piece of the puzzle for you, was that part of why this journey was meaningful to you, or was that not really a part of what mattered in your mind?

Dwayne Fields:
So when I picked up this mantle and said I'm going to go to the magnetic in North Pole, I didn't actually know who Matthew Henson was, I didn't know anything about him. It was during my extensive Google search, six minutes long on my computer, that I found out about Matthew. And I started reading up more and more about him and realized, well, actually this guy did this thing at a time when technology was nowhere near what it is today. The equipment, the gear, the resources, the safety, the training, all you were back then was, are you tough enough to do this thing? You're against the elements.

Dwayne Fields:
Nowadays, I thought to myself, you've got good, better gear, you've got technology helping you, you've got resources that they never had, but this guy is impressive. At this point, you're not allowed to sit at the front of the bus as a black person and he managed to walk in a North Pole. At this point, as a woman, you are not in charge of your reproductive organs but this guy's doing it as a black person. At this point, you cannot vote as a black person but this guy's doing some awesome stuff. And I took that as inspiration for the journey.

Dwayne Fields:
Well, when I got to the pole and I've read so many accounts saying that they did make and he did get there and I've other accounts saying based on his diary, they didn't make it. But in actual fact, the organization, I did it with set up this event, tricked to the North Pole as homage to Henson and Perry. So for me, it was like, do you know what? This guy, and we naturally do it with people that we look up to, don't we? We form parallels between us and them.

Dwayne Fields:
And when I heard that Matthew was an orphan, I thought, oh, well, I'm estranged from my parents. When I read that Matthew was great with his hands. I was like, well, I'm not too bad with my hands is well, I built a moped. I'm right. You just start to form the parallels, it's innate that we do it, isn't it? It's built in for you to form connections with other people. So I looked at Hansen and I said, this guy's a source of inspiration. And when I got there, it was only when I came back, that I realized that someone said to me, "Oh, Dwayne, do you know you are the first British black person to ever done this?" I said, "Really?" And I looked it up and again, extensive research, six minutes on Google.

Dwayne Fields:
I looked it up and I was like, first black British person, well, that's not important and then other of people said, well, we've looked it up and actually since Robert and Matthew did it, that Perry and Henson did it. You're the first black guy to go and follow that route and reach to the point that is the magnetic North Pole. And I thought, really that's not important. The important thing is, the journey that I took from where I came from to get there.

Dwayne Fields:
And one of the things that I say is, forget that I'm black, forget anything that you can see, or you think about me and just look at the journey. And if I can do that journey, anybody can do that journey because I am the most Joe average you'll ever come across.

Erik Weihenmayer:
When you get to the North Pole, it's just flat, same as a summit. You just get to a summit, it's an island in the sky. You think, God's going to speak to you and your life's going to change and over time you realize that doesn't really happen. So what's the learning from reaching the North Pole. I remember you writing at one point, it was a bit anti-climatic at first.

Dwayne Fields:
Yep. I wrote it. I said it and I meant it. So when I was making all to the North Pole, on the harder days, you tend to do things. You played mind games, don't you? To help you put one point in front of the other. And for me, it was saying things like, Ooh, there's going to be hot food and there's going to be a crowd with confetti and I don't know, sparkles or whatever else at the pole. And when you arrive at the point on the earth, that your map is telling you, you've been work walking towards that, GPS is telling you've been walking towards.

Dwayne Fields:
You get there and you look around and you look down and you say, this is it, I've checked my GPS. That's right. Checked my maps, yep, that's about right. And it's a white bit of snow, which is the exact same as a white bit of snow, 300, 400 miles back that way. And you think, what now? And you rub your hands, you have some water or whatever it is. And then you set off to an airfield, which is another, a day's walk just beyond it. So, yeah, it was massively anticlimactic especially because I was playing those mind games.

Dwayne Fields:
But equally for me, I don't, the pole itself was the expedition's goal but my goal, I think I reached it the moment I set out on that expedition, the moment I took that first step in Canada, I think I achieved my goal at that point beause I'd raised the money, I'd gone beyond my own expectations, I'd increased my skillset, I'd changed my outlook on life. I'd set a goal which I'd previously thought would never, could never happen to me and other people believed couldn't and shouldn't and wouldn't and I've surpassed it.

Dwayne Fields:
So for me, my goal had been hit 400 plus nautical miles back at the start. I was anti-climatic. I did want the, the crowds and I did want the confetti and I did what the happy for you.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Dwayne, back up for us, because one big part that we just glanced over is really, you've spent your first six years in Jamaica and rural Jamaica. What was that experience like? I mean, because I mean, you've had these massive shifts in everything when you broke out of your environment to walk to the North Pole, but that had happened to you at six years old, a very similar thing.

Erik Weihenmayer:
So what was that like in Jamaica, the traditions, the joy, the setting, the beautiful nature and then compared to going to the UK and being in an estate, being in the inner city must have been a, I mean, maybe you don't remember it at six years old.

Dwayne Fields:
I remember it perfectly, Eric. I remember every detail, I remember every lane, I even remember most of the trees and what fruit they were. I remember every detail before I left Jamaica. Now, if you think back, I don't know if you can think back, it wasn't that long ago, you should be able to remember being five, six, four years old and just being inquisitive about the world. And I think the best thing about Jamaica or my part Jamaica, rural Jamaica, where I grew up was that I could feed my curiosity.

Dwayne Fields:
I was raised by my great-grandmother. So my curiosity, we'd wake up in the morning. I'd run out the house and I'd be gone. That's me for the day. I'd eat breakfast and I'd be off. I'm in the woods, I'm down by the pond, I'm fishing through the stream. I was gone. It was a kid's paradise. And I remember doing SI silly things as well, which I learned from. So I was daring.

Dwayne Fields:
I remember this parrot flying across the sky into a termite mound or termite nest in a tree and I remember being four or five years old thinking, gosh, I want to know what that parrot's doing. And I'd climb that tree. I'd put my hand in there, pull out a baby parrot fall out of the tree, into a Hornets nest and be sung from head to toe. I'd get home but you know what? I still had that parrot in my hand. My great grandma she'd patched me a up and she wouldn't tell me not to do it. She'd say, be careful off you go.

Dwayne Fields:
Now, as a kid that's paradise, you have very few limits, you are allowed to explore, you're allowed to see what the world holds and that's exactly what I did. And when I came to London, it all stopped, I came to a mother who I hardly knew, I came to a world that I didn't understand. I mean, where I lived in Jamaica, we didn't have gas running water or electricity in the house. I could now switch, hit a switch. And in London I'd have lights. Well, I wasn't happy that didn't make me happy, so much so.

Dwayne Fields:
I remember, I think the first, so second night I would say I got into trouble. I got chastised because I missed our oil lamp. We had a glass oil lamp in Jamaica, one of those old fashioned ones you light it and twist the thing and a little material would come up and it would light up. And my one responsibility in the house at night was to blow this thing out and then dive back into bed. And that I felt like a man, that was responsibility. When I came to London, hitting the switch, it didn't feel the same.

Erik Weihenmayer:
It wasn't as satisfying.

Dwayne Fields:
It wasn't as satisfying. You know, that little bit of smoke and the smell, it wasn't. And I remember one night, I lit a candle and being a six gun on seven year old kid, what, you're playing with fire, put that candle out. And my mom went mad and she chastised me and I thought, well, it's okay, it's just fire. I'm I'm good at this. I've been doing it for a while now and that's the difference. In Jamaica, you'd run out as a kid. You'd play all day and you'd come back before dark for dinner or someone to shout your name from a distance and you'd run coming.

Dwayne Fields:
And over here I was being told, don't go outside and I was never the kid that liked sitting still and to sit still felt like constant torture. So for me, it was a complete shift. The world was completely different. I remember running through the house in London when we got there because I remember the way home or the way from the airport to the house. I didn't see any trees, I saw tall buildings. I saw three, four, five floors and big. I saw lots of buses and cars, but I didn't see any fields and forests. I didn't see any sugar cane fields. I didn't see any mango trees, any coconut, all the things that as a kid, when you see a world, you think the whole world looks like the space you live in, or that you've seen.

Dwayne Fields:
And now I was in this completely foreign world. Now ran through the house when we arrived there and I opened the curtains at the back, thinking there aren't any trees at the front, they must be at the back. And I remember seeing the brick wall and a concrete space about three meters by about three meters and I thought, no, this is it. And I feel like I went into childhood depression at that point.

Erik Weihenmayer:
So Dwayne though, I mean, playing arm chair psychiatrist here, you had that memory of your first six years, which was quite a gift.

Dwayne Fields:
Yes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Some people that grow up in the states, they don't have that gift of that memory. It's really interesting how your past is connected to your present.

Dwayne Fields:
Well, Erik, there's something called flash bold memory. So if I said to you, Erik, where were you when 9/11 happened? You'd probably remember.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Of course.

Dwayne Fields:
If I said to you... Yeah, you would do. And for me, I think my memory is very much solidified. I remember so much about that time because for me it was probably the best time of my life. And also it was a massive upheaval for me to leave that and come here. I know it was for the right reasons. My great-grandmothers was getting old and yes, it was a mother that I didn't really know and all the rest of it. And yes, the life here is better than the life that I would probably have had in Jamaica but it was a massive shift. And I think all that stuff that happened as a kid, it just got stinged into my memory because for me, the initial time here was so dark and was so low that all I could do was just relive those memories to enjoy myself. Sat in the house has never been comfortable for me.

Erik Weihenmayer:
But then when you rediscovered nature in the forest and the marshes and all that stuff outside of the UK, now that it clicks, that makes sense now.

Dwayne Fields:
Yes. And equally, I discovered that stuff as it was an escape from something which was terrible. So again, it was great for me for so many reasons. One, it was great because it was my first love. It was great because I genuinely loved the outdoors but also, it was great because it was almost like running into the arms of a rescuer. So it was all around a good thing. And which is why I'm the most fortunate person you've ever met.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Wonderful.

Dave Shurna:
Dwayne, I want to make sure that we talk about some of your work with the WeTwo Foundation for our listeners on this side of the pond here in the States. I'm going to let Dwayne tell you a little bit about how important that work is, but I want to provide some context because a lot of that work relates to kids from diverse backgrounds, getting their experience in the outdoors and here in the US just one point of reference, according to the National Park Service here in the US, 77% of visitors are white while 42% of our population are people of color.

Dave Shurna:
And I was reading something that the deputy director of the National Park Service said under Obama, Mickey Fearn, who himself was an African American. And he said, "Look, if you grow up in a city in America and you're black," he put it this way. He said, "All of us have a gift, any urban people of color who have a gift that's related to being in the outdoors or ecology or conservation will have a very difficult time identifying that they even have the gift because there's nothing that they come in contact with. There's no one to connect them with."

Dave Shurna:
So this is a major issue, not only in where you live, it's an issue here in the United States. And so Dwayne, I applaud you for this effort. Tell us a little bit about the WeTwo Foundation and why it's so important.

Dwayne Fields:
So two things, let me just say, here in the UK that statistic is very similar. We've got lots of green spaces, lots of open spaces. One of the thing is, generally as people we do things that we see our parents or our guardians doing. When most people arrived in the UK, people from developing countries arrived and they came here, they came here to build up city areas and they said, "Look, let's stay in these communities because it's safer together. If we venture out we risk being hurt."And I think that's trickled down a little bit. It's start to ease now I hope I see more and more people diversity in the outdoors.

Dwayne Fields:
So hopefully it is trickling down but yes, the foundation that I started with one of my expedition teammates is called the WeTwo Foundation. And it's all about getting young people from diverse backgrounds and disadvantaged backgrounds more importantly, to spend more time outdoors. Now, we are a charity, we're always fundraising. The very first inaugural expedition under the charity banner is taken 10 young people from all across Britain to Antarctica on the world's first ever carbon negative expedition of its kind.

Dwayne Fields:
These young people, it's going to blow their mind. There was a nomination process where we had almost 700 people nominate a young person. So we've got a good spread and I had to go through the hard task of Whitling that 700 down to 70. And now I have to whittle that 70 you down with my teammate to 10, toughest job I've ever had to do. And then, 10 young people are going to get to go on an expeditionship to Antarctica, the greatest wilderness out there that you can ever find, and they're not going to have to pay for it but they are going to have to earn their spot.

Dwayne Fields:
And the way they do that is, they're going to have to do something within their communities. So this isn't just about them benefiting, it's their communities and their peers benefiting. They have to do something within their local communities to offset their carbon or to help with a local initiative, which pays for their carbon footprint for this expedition, they're going to be carrying out real life, citizen science when they're there. So we're going to be doing cloud observations, whale observations, vital, plankton sampling, leopard seal observations, all this stuff we're going to be doing with scientists onboard the vessel, and these young people will now get that sense of worth and value that you can't replace it.

Dwayne Fields:
The moment you give someone a sense of work and I've been doing this for years, I've taken young people on expeditions for at least seven, eight years now. And I've been teaching young people for about 12 years now. I work with the Scouts, I'm a Scout ambassador here. So I know this stuff and I know it works. I've seen it, I've done it. When you give someone something of value and that's something that they've experienced, they now turn from this person who I don't care about the world into. I have this thing now I don't want to lose it. I have this respect now I don't want to lose it. And it's real and it changes people.

Dwayne Fields:
And the hope is that we'll start to see more people from these deprived communities popping up and become focal points. And hopefully, we'll get the next, say David Attenborough from one of these communities.

Dave Shurna:
And where can I listeners go, if they'd like to support that expedition?

Dwayne Fields:
Absolutely. The first thing I want them to do, anyone who's listening that wants to support that or our future expeditions, just go to www.teamwetwo.com read up about what we're doing and just have a look and support us, sponsor us if you can or have a look, I think knowledge is such a key and important thing. Read up about what we're doing. I see the awesome work that we're doing.

Dave Shurna:
And Dwayne, I want to just add to this conversation because I think this is a part of what the WeTwo and again, you can always look at our show notes if you're wondering what WeTwo is. It is T-W-O as in two people, not T-O-O, so WeTwo Foundation but I want to add to this conversation, Erik, we started the conversation. Erik mentioned that you two are on this amazing program, Welcome to Earth with Will Smith. You just mentioned David Attenborough, me growing up in Chicago in the inner city, David Attenborough was a hero of mine, Dr. Jane Goodall, one of the first female scientist to really become publicized another hero of mine, a British scientist.

Dave Shurna:
But part of what you're saying, I think is, look, there aren't a lot of people from diverse backgrounds that showcase what a great thing the outdoors is and talking about it. And so, by being on welcome to Earth, and what Will Smith is doing, you're part of generating that conversation of, we need a generation of new leaders to be that next David Attenborough that represent the diverse fabric of the world.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Beautiful.

Dwayne Fields:
I think that's the greatest thing about this series, it allows people from a adverse range to showcase what they're good at, what they can do. And one of the things that I keep saying and I genuinely hope it is that people watch Welcome to Earth and be able to identify one of us, whether it's Erik, whether it's Albert, whether it's Steve or me, or Will, whoever it is, I just want them to watch it and say, "Well, actually I can see where that person's coming from." And regardless of color, regardless of creed, regardless of class, I just want people to want to be outside more.

Dwayne Fields:
And let's be honest, if it's all about money, it pays to get more people outside for more diverse backgrounds, get everyone out there. It's better for your mental health, it's better for your physical health, it's better for your community. You remember more when you spend time outdoors. Your respiratory system works better, when you spend time outdoors, it's better for the outdoors. When you spend time outdoors, if you fall in love with it, you will work to protect it. So spend time out there. It doesn't matter what you look like or where you come from. Just get out there.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Wonderful. One last question and then I'm promise we'll let you go Dwayne, but I'm really dying to know something, because a lot of people look at your story from the outside and it's like a fairy tale. You've shattered barriers, you've done outlandish things. You've "arrived." But, I'm finding at 53 that you never quite arrive, you're constantly moving. And you've been shot at, you've been stabbed, you've had hard childhood, you've had this culture shocks and you've had a lot of hardship. Are there still some maybe emotional barriers that you're personally trying to work through that maybe you're still that work in progress?

Dwayne Fields:
Yeah. That's the short answer. The long answer is, I keep doing this because one, I love it and two, I see the power of it. One of my most memorable moments was making a 19-year old black kid from Central London cry. Now, this guy was the stereotypical, my trousers are halfway down my legs. I went back to my old area and I saw this guy walk over a bag of takeaway food and I jumped out my car carefully and I handed him my car to said, "Mate, I'm doing an event climbing some mountains here, UK. There's my business card. It might sound weird. Check me out, give me a call." Within about 20, 25 minutes, the phone rings and this guy's like, "Are you serious?" I said, "Yeah." And he goes, "Bro, are you really serious?" I said, "I'm serious." He said, "Yeah, I'll do it. How much do I have to pay."

Dwayne Fields:
I said, "I'll take care of the money, I'll take care of the equipment, all you have to do is be willing and show up." This guy while we were up in Scotland, it was raining, it was freezing cold, I'm walking around, there's a camera there. And he says, "Ah, dad, he's got his phone on." He's talking to his out of video call he said, "Dad, Dwayne's here." So I take the phone. I say, "How you doing sir? You know, he's doing well. We're so glad he made it this far. He was a bit shaky, but we got here." And his dad said to me, "I'm so proud of him." And instantly this guy who I think he was wearing a tag an ankle tag up until the week before we left his face drops. And he starts to change color.

Dwayne Fields:
His eyes start to water and he starts to look away and instantly realize that this moment is something he's never had before. No one's ever said, I'm proud of you. And weirdly at that point, his dad saying it to him, I'd never heard those words from either parents. So I vicariously enjoyed that moment. And I gave the phone back, Said, "No, tell him that you're proud of him." And his dad starts crying saying, "I just want you to know, I'm proud of you for doing this. And when you get back, we're going to cook something really nice for you." For me that moment there was probably some of my emotions being worked out to answer your question. So is there something deep inside? Yes. Is that a beautiful moment? Yes. Is that why I do it that moment? There will keep me doing this forever.

Erik Weihenmayer:
That's beautiful. Thanks Dwayne. Thank you so much for being a part of this.

Dave Shurna:
Yeah. Dwayne, thank you so much. And Erik, I know you and I can relate to that moment and we've seen that moment in so many of the populations that we serve at No Barriers from veterans to kids, with disabilities, to kids from inner city, to caregivers. That moment is powerful. Nature has the power to bring those moments out. Thank you, Dwayne, for all that you do. Check out, Welcome to Earth, check out the WeTwo Foundation. If you have any questions about what came up in this podcast, please check our show notes where we will reference any of the websites that are mentioned and Dwayne, best of luck to you. Thanks so much for making the time to speak with us.

Dwayne Fields:
Thank you so much. Thank you guys.

Didrik Johnck:
The production team behind this podcast includes producer Didrik Johnck, that's me, sound design, editing, and mixing by Tyler Cotman, marketing and graphic support from stone Ward and web support by Jamlo. Special thanks to the Dan Ryan Band for our intro song Guidance. And thanks to all of you for listening. We know that you've got a lot of choices about how you can spend your time and we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com. That's no barrierspodcast.com. There's also a link to shoot me an email with any suggestions for this show or any ideas you've got it all. Thanks so much and have a great day.

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