w: ajleon

Define Your Moments or They Will Define You

The sun shone high, the wind was soft and warm, the water below looked like sheet rock and I could hear a loud thumping coming from somewhere behind my sternum.

There I was in Peru suspended over the Urubamba River, with a man named Eric telling me to just let go and jump. Easy for him to say. He wasn’t the asshole with a rope harness around him hanging off the edge of a bridge in a foreign country. I’ve done some crazy things on my adventures around the world, but I’ve never been so aware of it as I was in that moment.

It wasn’t the free fall that scared me or the idea of me swinging high over the Urubamba tied to a rusty bridge 26 miles outside of Cuzco.

It was the act of taking my right foot off the metal plank it was planted on, and stepping onto thin air.

It was the not knowing.

If you’ve ever gone skydiving you know precisely what I’m talking about. The fall isn’t all that terrifying, it’s climbing onto the wing that gets you.

The ten seconds before you leap is where your mettle is tested.

If I’m honest, I find myself in a similar predicament today.

In 68 minutes it will be my 30th Birthday.

Happy Birthday to me.

Today, is also the inception of this site – Pursuit of Everything, which I’ve launched to publish my writing about living with intention, doing work that truly matters and changing the world. It will also chronicle my adventure to travel around the entire world in 1,880 days (primarily by land and sea).

I leave in 48 hours.

It’s a scary thing.

I feel like I’m suspended in air above the Urubamba again. To launch a project like this is for me to declare very boldly, “I believe I have something to say”. And that is a uniquely terrifying expedition. Primarily, because it means I actually do have to have something to say about changing the world. Luckily, I have some degree of experience in this area.

You see, I used to be an unremarkably average finance executive in New York City until the eve of the 2008 New Year, 96 hours before my wedding. That was the day it occurred to me that somehow, someway, I had been conned into living some other dude’s life, quantifying my success by how many zeros there were at the end of it and relegating my adventures to two-week increments.

I remember standing behind my $8,200 mahogany desk, peering out over the Manhattan skyline from my 28-story office window, and just thinking back to when I was a kid. To the times when I truly believed that I was put on this earth to do something special. I could just see the thirteen-year-old version of myself looking at me shaking his head, “This is it. We only have one life, and this is what you’re doing with it?!”

Then it struck me – If I didn’t leave, if I didn’t walk away right at that moment, I was going to be that dude for the rest of my life. My heart started racing.
I grabbed my stuff, walked out the door and jumped off the bridge. That was the day I decided that in order to change the world, I had to change mine first.

____

Since leaving my unremarkably average former life, I’ve managed to do quite a few interesting things.

  • Remain completely self employed by running the coolest company in the world.
  • Work and travel with my beautiful wife every single day.
  • Travel to 43 different countries (about 75% of each year).
  • Generate over $100,000 using AirBNB to rent out my apartment in New York.
  • Take 13 train journeys and two road trips around the whole of the United States.
  • Been invited to speak to groups in New York, London, Athens, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Seoul and Bangkok – primarily about changing the world.
  • Jumped out of a plane in Vegas and off of a bridge in Peru.
  • Have traveled and worked in 9 African countries.
  • And launched humanitarian projects that have raised millions of dollars for communities in South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Malawi.

These are just a few of my credentials for people who like that sort of thing. But this project is not about me, it is about the application of these ideas in order to help you change the world by identifying and accomplishing compelling goals, while living life on your own terms and making the world a better place.

The underlying concepts of my philosophy are:

  1. Live your life with intention.
  2. Do work that truly matters. (hint: if you’re not proud to talk about it, then it probably doesn’t matter)
  3. Devote some small part of your life to working on projects that directly benefit those less fortunate than you.
  4. Give more than you get.

I have yet to meet the person that embodies these four qualities, and isn’t living a remarkable life and changing the world at the same time.

____

So here I am.

At the edge of a bridge again, launching a project I hope people will care enough about to follow and going on a journey that will take me to over 87 countries, traveling almost 100,000 miles by train, car, bus, bicycle and foot across this beautiful planet in 1,880 days.

The scariest thing, of course, is not the journey itself or even the idea of writing articles that people want to read and share.

It’s stepping off the ledge.

It’s publishing this post.

So, if you’ve found yourself here, at the bottom of this article, it must mean two things.

  • #1 I actually mustered the courage to saddle up and go on the adventure of a lifetime.
  • #2 Somehow, someway the universe conspired to get this article in front of you.

I’m glad you’ve found your way here, and it means the whole wide world to me that you took the time to read this. As you face your own bridges to jump off in the next few days, weeks and months, don’t ever forget that your life is always just one brief moment of audacity away from remarkable.

Alright, I have exactly 43 minutes to enjoy the final moments of my twenties, and start plotting the first leg of my journey across the globe.

Here’s to changing world!

Your fellow Misfit,

AJ

1055 words

8.16.12

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