So why did I do it?
One reason is because ‘it was there,’ as Mrs. Robinson put it in Buenos Aires. I still vividly remember the Monday the 28th of May, when I called to find out that I would be leaving alone after all. I hit a wall. I wanted to quit. And for 2 hours, I was tormented by a dream unfulfilled.
Then the ‘what ifs’ and the burdens of traveling alone were dismissed after 2 hours through sheer blind commitment. I would go no matter what, as far as my will would take me. I gave myself a 15% chance of completing the journey, and headed out the door. That number didn’t change until the final days.
(Jim, if you are reading this, I hope you don’t mind, but I don’t think I write it any better than when I wrote you.)
“I left because the army left me straggling for the pieces of my own sanity. I left because everything I had ever done, going to war, UC Berkeley, working at IBM, were all things that someone out there had already done before. I left because I didn’t feel like I ever accomplished anything on my own accord. I left because I hated going through the same routine that everyone else went through. I left because I had doubters, including myself, who, like they have throughout most of my life, told me what to do and when and in what manner to do it. I left because I had always believed I could be dropped anywhere in the world and I could successfully adapt, survive, and thrive. I left because I had never proven a thing to anyone in my life. I left because I was trying to get away from the mold of society that encourages mediocrity.
I’ve learned a lot from the trip. But what I’ve learned the most is that where I go from here does depend on where I steer my ship, but it also depends on, probably to a much larger degree, the people I meet and the situation I happen to find myself in.
I really needed to succeed in getting to the tip. Because otherwise, I would have become completely comfortable with my own complacency and settle for nothing more than what everyone else would settle for.
How am I going to top this? I have no idea. Perhaps I never will. But I’m gonna keep trying until I figure out a way. Every time I thought that the trip was going to end prematurely, there was always a way that I managed to find myself in to finish it completely. I need to keep trying.
My long term goal lies where I can hopefully raise millions if not billions of dollars for philanthropy. I’ve learned that money is never an ends for happiness. But it could be a means to bring about opportunities to those around the world that never had an opportunity like I did in America. And that would bring me greater joy than a collection of Mercedes Benz McLarens.
So hopefully this tough journey was an end for complacency and self-doubt, and a beginning of something much, much harder which I have set for myself. I don’t want to be known or remembered. I do not want myself or others to just bask in what I’ve done in the past. That is why I waited 3 years until my last semester in college to talk about my military deployment. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t want people to think as highly of me.
And that’s because I am deeply afraid that somewhere down the line, I will stop being ambitious and idealistic. I do not wonder if I will be successful in financially supporting my family. Instead, I am afraid that I will look back 40 years from now and still believe that this trip was the biggest accomplishment in my life because I failed in my pursuit of something greater than myself.”
“Please do not think better of me now that I’ve completed what I sought to do. Please continue to push me, encourage me, and guide me.”