Have you ever found yourself asking the question "I wonder if there is something more out there for me?" Unsettled or unsatisfied with your current reality? Constantly feeling as though there is higher calling, some other path that you could travel, perhaps a more meaningful reality that you could one day refer to as the adventure known as your life?
I remember when it happened to me. It was my very first trip to the Himalayas. At the time, I was 26 years old and I was running a video production company called Reel Concepts.
I built the business from the ground up, investing four years of my life in the project. I had my employees, I was making very good money and I had an impressive list of clients in the nation's capital, my home in Ottawa, Canada. Yet somehow, I felt as though there was something missing.
I'd pursued a career as a musician, actor, model, film-maker and entrepreneur. Each pursuit was, in its own right, an invaluable life experience filled with triumph and failure, both of which shape us all into the individuals we are today. After a decade of commitment to my craft, a television producer asked me to embark on a journey that would forever change my life.
With two weeks notice and absolutely zero experience in the outdoors—I'd never even slept in a tent!—I found myself in the foothills of the Himalayas as a cameraman, filming an expedition up the world's tallest mountain. Life presented an opportunity for me to explore, and I took a leap of faith.
I remember being at Everest base camp in Nepal in 2005, at an altitude of 17,500 feet. For two months every year, it's considered to be one the highest inhabited places on Earth.
Sleeping in a yellow tent on a glacier that moves at the rate of one meter per day wasn't exactly within my comfort zone! The 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayas literally took my breath away. But what truly inspired me were the stories of the people I met. Stories of adventure, of jungles, of deserts and of mountains.
The experiences that these climbers, both men and women, had lived were like perfectly scripted Hollywood films. It couldn't possibly be real life, could it? My imagination was running wild and, being the dreamer that I am, I wondered whether it would be possible to change my own reality and live these kinds of adventures.
I was prepared to do whatever it would take to reshape my entire life. "I want this," I thought. "This is going to become my reality."
Inspired by the lives of the beautiful people of Nepal, I decided to simplify my own life. I sold my brand-new car and my condo, shut down my business, cashed in my life savings, borrowed tens of thousands of dollars and began reshaping my life and career. I wanted to become an adventure filmmaker and travel the world while making a difference. I was 26, filled with passion and I was relentless. I decided to invest everything I had in this little project called FindingLife.
For six years I embarked on journey after journey, five Himalayan expeditions, five of the seven summits on five continents, deserts, oceans, jungles and beyond. Film after film, experience after experience, financial investment after financial investment, I was doing whatever was necessary to pursue my dream.
My life became a series of humbling experiences, from "failures" to reach summits, not being able to pay my rent, moving back home with my parents and at times barely being able to buy groceries to feed myself. But every experience, whether positive or negative, served as a lesson I could learn from. These lessons are the experiences of our lives that shape us into who we are. I learned to embrace them all.
In time, it all paid off. The dream that I had, that few understood, has taken me to the far ends of the Earth and has evolved into a non-profit organization that is truly changing people's lives. A day doesn't go by that I don't express my sincerest gratitude for being in the position that I am today.
As Westerners, many of us tend to get caught up in a material world, we conform to the status quo and we become who others believe we need to be. We lose the passion and excitement for what it is to live this incredible gift we've all be given called life. We make life decisions and accept that we cannot change our current reality.
The truth is that we always have a choice. It's easy to forget that what truly matters is being happy in life and often that begins with tuning into what our hearts are really trying to tell us. It can be a terrifying experience to listen to what your heart craves, whether it's that "crazy" idea or that wildest dream. But let me tell you: The day that you listen to that inner voice and follow your greatest passion and take all the right steps in making it your reality? You'll never look back. Be courageous, be inspired, and act. Your life is your adventure.
Follow Elia Saikaly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/eliasaikaly