Along Came Jedidiah Jenkins

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Photo used with permission from @jedidiahjenkins

"You can't write something true that you have no experience of."

I'm a newbie when it comes to podcasts, and a friend recommended one to me recently, an episode of The Rich Roll Podcast, that I absolutely adored.

Jedidiah Jenkins: The Pursuit of Wonder,
The Power of Story & Finding Truth in Adventure

If you don't know about Jedidiah or his story (I didn't before listening to this), a few years ago, he set out to bike from Oregon to Patagonia, and documented his 16-month journey on Instagram through pictures paired with beautifully written little paragraphs of thoughts as the captions.

That alone is incredible, isn't it? (There's more, but you'll have to go listen.)

He's currently in the midst of writing a book about his bike trip, which I will definitely be buying.

The biggest thing that stuck out to me when listening to this was that even though Jedidiah has so many amazing stories, traveling to places that many of us only dream of seeing, he's still just a normal person trying to do some good in and for the world. He doesn't come off as arrogant. He doesn't see himself as better or smarter than anyone else. His demeanor is very real.

"That's kind of my whole perspective with writing this book, with going on this trip, with expressing myself with my writing online is just – I'm learning lessons live, and I'm going to tell you what I learn. And some of these things feel very universal to human experience but they might not be true to you."

To use his Instagram picture in this post, I sent him a direct message asking for permission, and from his simple response alone (which had me fangirling a bit, if I'm being honest) I could sense the genuine kindness of his personality.

The episode is pretty lengthy – just over two hours – but not once did I feel bored or uninterested.

There were three big takeaways for me that I want to talk about.

ONE: 'YOU DO NOT SEE ART AS IT IS, BUT AS YOU ARE'

"You consume things and put them through the lens of your own experience, and so if you have a critical eye on the world, if you think everyone's out to get something, trying to get rich, if everyone's trying to be lazy, if everyone's trying to take advantage of you, then anything you perceive, especially someone who is sincere and genuine, you immediately think that they're phony."

Hearing this felt like it was a message specially for me. It may not be constant, but man, I really can have a critical eye on the world at times.

Note to self: Take things as they are. Do not be critical – you're sabotaging your own happiness that way.

TWO: YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN

Jedidiah recalled a time early on in his trip when he was feeling miserable and homesick and was questioning his entire trip. He called his dad, who told him that eventually, he'll get used to being on the road and his brain will consider it home. And then:

"You fear that your friends are moving on without you, life is going. You'll get back and you will realize that nothing has changed, and if it has, it's great. No one's forgetting you. You're not missing anything. You're the one that's living, and they're wishing they were doing that."

Maybe it's just me, but that feeling of But what will I miss? can inhibit me from pursuing some opportunities. I'm sure part of it is that Millennial mindset of something better happening elsewhere, but another part is that nagging feeling of What if people forget about me? It's understandable, but we shouldn't let it keep us from exploring and experiencing life.

THREE: THERE IS NO SINGLE KEY TO HAPPINESS

"I think there's this idea in the United States or the developed world, where we see someone who lives in a mud hut, and we're like, 'Aw, bless their hearts. They don't even have a TV or a fridge. They're so poor. I'm so sad.' . . . . Things that we equate with excellence are not necessary for joy." 

Simple as that. Happiness is not materialistic.

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If you're interested in giving it a listen, you can find it here.


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