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 had invested 4 years of my life in the business and built it from the ground up. 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. A decade of commitment to my craft as a filmmaker led me to being asked by a television producer to embark on a journey that would forever change my life.
With 2 weeks notice, and absolutely ZERO experience in the outdoors (including sleeping in a tent!) I found myself in the foothills of the highest mountain on planet Earth 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, trusted the universe and literally dove off the cliff. I shared the news with my staff and was on my way into the complete unknown.
I remember being at Everest basecamp in 2005, at an altitude of 17, 500ft above sea level in Nepal. For 2 months it is 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! However, what truly inspired me the most were the stories of the people I met. Stories of adventure! Jungles, deserts and mountains. Experiences that these climbers, both men and women, had lived that were comparable to a perfectly scripted Hollywood film. 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. The words that proceeded to come of out mouth forever changed my life. “I want this. This is going to become my reality”. I was prepared to do whatever it would take to reshape my entire life.
Inspired by the simplistic lives of the beautiful people of Nepal, I
decided to simplify my life. I sold my brand new car, my condo, I 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
For 6 years I embarked on journey after journey, 5 Himalayan expeditions, 5 of the seven summits on 5 continents, deserts, oceans, jungles and beyond. Film after film, experience after experience, financial investment after financial investment, doing whatever was necessary to pursue my dream. My life became a series of humbling experiences, from ‘failure’ to reach summits, not being able to pay my rent, moving back home with my parents and at times barely able to buy groceries to feed myself. But every experience, whether positive or less positive, 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 listening to what your heart craves, whether 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, trust me when I say, you’ll never look back. Be courageous, be inspired, and act.
“Your life, is your adventure.” Elia Saikaly