Let’s Go Skydiving!

March 11th, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

Sometimes I’m asked what drives me most, what inspires me to take action. My answer is curiosity.

I’m curious about a great many things. I love to learn experientially most of all.

Here’s a list of some things I’ve explored in my life thus far (in no particular order):

  • 30 days of continuous travel
  • 35 days of continuous travel
  • 3 months of comedy improv lessons and two live performances
  • 6 years of Toastmasters (dozens of speeches)
  • competing in several speech contests
  • traveling and speaking internationally
  • 2 years serving as an officer of a non-profit corporation (including CEO)
  • 4 years membership in the Transformational Leadership Council
  • racking up $150K of debt
  • going bankrupt
  • getting kicked out of my apartment for not paying the rent
  • learning poker
  • learning card counting at blackjack (and getting kicked out of a casino once)
  • studying fractals and writing software to generate them
  • shoplifting (anywhere from $1 to $700 worth of items at a time)
  • getting arrested three times for misdemeanors
  • getting arrested for felony grand theft
  • being expelled from college
  • learning audio editing
  • learning to create websites
  • creating numerous passive income streams
  • buying a million-dollar home
  • winning numerous academic awards
  • starting two different businesses and making both of them profitable
  • 10 years designing, programming, and publishing computer games
  • writing an award-winning computer game
  • reading 1000+ personal development books (ongoing)
  • composing a few original poems
  • building a website with more than 10 million page views per month
  • 23 days on a continuous road trip (and many shorter ones)
  • learning about wine in Napa Valley
  • a few months as Scientology member (just for the experience)
  • driving 790 miles in one day
  • seeing 60 plays in one summer
  • making some microloans and promoting a microloan group
  • earning two college degrees in three semesters
  • working at a video game store
  • 30 days vegetarian (turned into 20+ years)
  • 30 days vegan (turned into 17+ years)
  • 30-45 days eating raw vegan (multiple times)
  • 30 days eating low-fat raw vegan (80/10/10)
  • 6 months eating raw vegan
  • a few months of eating a macrobiotic diet
  • 30 days of juice feasting (consuming one gallon of fresh juice per day)
  • learning to make a great raw pie
  • about 20 years of regular exercise in various forms
  • a few years of distance running (wasn’t so good for my knees unfortunately)
  • running the L.A. Marathon (the first two hours in the rain)
  • 3 years of tae kwon do training
  • 1 year of kenpo training
  • studying various forms of meditation, including developing and publishing my own forms
  • doing polyphasic sleep for 5-1/2 months
  • 6 weeks of golf lessons
  • many years of playing disc golf
  • finishing hundreds of video games (mostly NES and PC)
  • 30 days of learning music (including composing a few songs)
  • 30 days of learning chess
  • 15 years in a monogamous relationship
  • 11 years of marriage
  • having two kids
  • writing 1200+ free articles
  • building my own computer from component parts
  • learning to become a very huggy person
  • learning to give very good massages
  • getting a couple of speeding tickets for driving 100+ mph (including going 130 mph on the 101 freeway in California)
  • authoring a book (still available in bookstores)
  • speaking on diverse topics (blogging, personal growth, subjective reality,  BDSM, and more)
  • attending a cuddle party
  • encouraging hundreds, if not thousands, of people to quit their lame-ass jobs
  • trying various forms of yoga, including hot yoga
  • backpacking and sleeping under the stars (no tent)
  • donating thousands of dollars to charity
  • smoking pot
  • journaling for 20+ years
  • driving a motor boat
  • podcasting
  • recording, editing, and publishing a few videos
  • creating video game art (including some used in published games)
  • meeting a bunch of famous people (and hugging them)
  • delivering numerous 3-day workshops
  • delivering a co-creative workshop in Romania
  • developing a co-creative audio program
  • donating a huge amount of copyrighted content to the public domain
  • creating a popular personal growth newsletter
  • creating a popular forum for indie game developers (still up and running)
  • creating a popular personal growth forum (more than 1 million posts)
  • becoming an early riser
  • doing lots of interviews
  • being quoted in the New York Times and various other publications
  • reading all the Harry Potter books
  • going several years without using a microwave oven
  • giving up fluoride toothpaste
  • moving to Las Vegas (lived here more than 10 years)
  • doing personal coaching
  • hosting meet-ups in various cities
  • generating more than $1 million in sales for a few different partners
  • interviewing a military intelligence officer
  • petting a hummingbird
  • hugging a wolf
  • temporarily losing consciousness from electrocution (during a physics class)
  • practicing qi gong with a qi gong master
  • tutoring students in math and programming
  • accepting cuddle invites from people before I’ve even met them
  • exploring polyamory
  • exploring open relationships
  • exploring threesomes
  • exploring domination-submission
  • exploring 4D relationships
  • being in a long-distance relationship for 4+ years
  • learning programming (proficient in 12-15 different languages)

This isn’t an exhaustive list… this is just what came to mind while brainstorming for this article.

As you can tell by this list, I’m all over the place in my explorations. I have a lot of diverse interests. Sometimes I explore old interests repeatedly. Other times I explore something once and never return to it.

Even after so many immersive experiments, I still feel there’s so much more to explore and experience in this life. I think about languages I’ve never learned, places I’ve never visited, and people I’ve never met.

I have little interest in being anyone’s guru. I don’t really see myself as a teacher either. I’m an explorer. I enjoy playing the role of Lewis and Clark in the personal development field. I’m not interested in building an information empire (most of my work is in the public domain). I don’t care about branding (I have little control over that anyway). I’m not inspired by money or power or fame or other common definitions of success. Traditional definitions of success often leave me feeling bored and listless.

But I absolutely love new experiences. I love being a beginner. I love starting on a fresh excursion. I love reading new books and learning new skills.

I love gazing into the abyss of something that’s unknown to me and stepping forward into it. I enjoy the mystery of not knowing where my path will lead.

Here are some things I’m curious to explore but haven’t yet:

  • learning to fly a helicopter
  • learning to fly a plane
  • SCUBA diving
  • surfing
  • wind surfing
  • sailing
  • running an ultra marathon (50+ miles)
  • rock climbing
  • traveling to places I’ve never visited
  • visiting outer space
  • visiting the Moon
  • learning multiple foreign languages
  • delivering a speech or workshop in another language
  • exploring a 3-person relationship for a few months
  • having a D/s threesome
  • starting a non-profit
  • learning to sing well
  • composing a music album (including composing and singing the lyrics)
  • learning to drive a stick shift
  • learning to ride a motorcycle
  • hosting a reunion party for past attendees of my workshops
  • donating enough money to my old college for them to add a new building
  • having 100+ books published (due to uncopyrighting my work, I’m more than halfway already)
  • earning $100K in one month
  • being homeless and living on the street for a month
  • doing a 30-day trial with no money (no using cash, credit, etc)
  • doing a 10-day Vipassana retreat
  • trying Ayahuasca
  • doing a cross-country road trip
  • playing in a poker tournament
  • skydiving
  • swimming with dolphins
  • spending time in a sensory deprivation tank
  • doing a cameo in a movie
  • performing in a stage play
  • doing stand-up comedy
  • writing a screenplay and seeing it turned into a movie
  • writing a novel
  • writing an iOS app
  • do 100 workshops
  • living in a custom home that I help design
  • learning to paint (and hanging some of my art in my home)
  • having a creative custom home office designed and built
  • going to every Starbucks in Las Vegas at least once
  • 30 days of starting up conversations with random people on the street
  • hiring a personal coach (did this before, but it’s worth revisiting)
  • hiring a business coach
  • learning to ski

This isn’t an exhaustive list either… just brainstorming off the top of my head.

Some of these are just casual interests, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if I never got around to them. Other items are more inspiring to me, even if they may be a long way off.

Sometimes I’ll research a random desire to see what would be required to pull it off. This makes it more real to me and gets me thinking of it as a probability, not just a possibility. For instance, there’s a skydiving place in Vegas, so I could check off that one fairly easily if I wanted to. I think the first jump has to be a tandem jump though.

I also discovered a place in Las Vegas that offers a 30-day intensive program to become a helicopter pilot. The program costs $15-20K and requires spending around 8 hours per day on lessons, but if you make it through without quitting, you become a licensed helicopter pilot. That seems doable, although I’m not sure when I’d be able to devote an entire month to this. It sounds like a fun challenge though. Would you consider doing this with me? All it takes is some time and some money.

Being an explorer prevents me from getting a regular job. I don’t have time to put 40+ hours a week into doing the same repetitive stuff over and over again. To conduct my explorations and follow my path with a heart, I need flexible ways of supporting myself. A daily job would only get in the way.

In the Internet age in which we now find ourselves, a typical corporate job seems like an archaic and outdated solution. The Internet has put information at our fingertips. This flood of information can unleash so many interesting desires and creative pursuits to explore.

Traditional marriage is becoming archaic as well. Did you know that 20-somethings today are marrying at half the rate that the Baby Boomers did during their 20s? Roughly three out of four 20-somethings don’t want to get married. Why not? Probably because they saw what happened to their parents.

We live in times of so much change that it’s pretty difficult to find a single partner that you can reasonably expect to adapt to all the twists and turns you’re likely to take over a lifetime. Today we need more flexible relationship structures. Intimacy is important to us, but if we sacrifice flexibility to get it, we ultimately kill the intimacy too.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t maintain a stable marriage in the long run. My ex-wife and I held on for as long as we could, but eventually we stopped denying that we were growing in different directions. For a time we explored well together, but inevitably our interests diverged. Letting go was for the best.

In my life curiosity is king. I’m not afraid of going broke or losing all of my possessions in pursuing what excites me. I’ve gone bankrupt once before (in 1999), and seriously it’s no big deal. If it happened again, I could handle it. I’d rather avoid it of course, but I don’t fear it. Bankruptcy is just a lot of paperwork, a 5-minute court appearance, and some changes in a few computer databases.

I think the real enemies in life are fear and attachment. Those can really hold us back if we feed them too much imaginary power. I gave away most of my intellectual property partly because I didn’t want to allow the fear of losing it or the attachment to owning it to limit me.

Better to go bankrupt, get expelled, get evicted, get divorced, suffer a loss, etc. than it is to fear any of those things. You can cope with whatever reality serves up, but your imaginary fears can drive you nuts and slow you down tremendously.

I love, love, love people who are explorers like me — people who are fascinated by the new. I’d love to meet more of them.

These days I’m really getting into co-creating and co-exploring. Doing these things on my own was nice, but shared experiences are even better.

Looking back on what I’ve already explored, I feel blessed. I’m so very glad I didn’t go the traditional employment route. I can’t imagine myself walking into an office building each day and saying “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” to some boss, then sitting at a desk and doing the same type of work over and over again. I let my spirit be my boss. He can be tougher on me than any other boss, but at least he knows what I like.

What lights you up in life? What would you like to explore? Are you excited by how you’re living?

If you’ve gone the traditional route of trying to live up to your parents’ expectations, you may be burdened with all sorts of sniveling fears about what might happen if you stretch yourself. The truth is that those things may indeed happen. Some of your fears probably will happen. But the reality is that those experiences are quite livable. They just aren’t as big a deal as you’re making them out to be.

It’s like the 15-1/2 year old who’s scared of learning to drive. What if I make a mistake? What if I don’t pass my driving test on the first try? Well… you probably will make some mistakes. About 41% of people pass their driving test the first time, meaning that 59% don’t pass, so the odds of passing the first time are slightly against you. But would you let that stop you? Even if you failed the first time, who cares? You just practice and study some more and try again — till you get it right.

Your first business venture will probably fail. Your first website will likely suck. Your first book may very well tank. Don’t take it personally.

Don’t be so attached to outcomes. Celebrate the exploration. That’s the big win.

Life is forgiving of many mistakes. You CAN go bankrupt and still enjoy success in business. You CAN have multiple failed relationships and still enjoy plenty of delightful connections. You CAN drop out of school and still study your favorite subjects (and probably much faster).

Many of my explorations could be seen as failures in terms of results. I’ve written some crappy songs. I learned the basics of chess, but I’m not very good at it, and I haven’t even played since 2006. I’m not as good a programmer today as I was in my 20s. I’d feel a little afraid of shoplifting today, even though I used to be fearless at it (not to mention that it would now violate my values). I have little or nothing to show in terms of enduring results for many of my explorations.

But I didn’t do those explorations for the results. I didn’t expect to become a master chess player… or a master criminal… or a superior martial artist. I just wanted the experience. I wanted to know what it was like to checkmate the opponent’s king, to spar a black belt, and yes… even to steal.

Sometimes my explorations lead to long-term change, but that isn’t usually the intent. A 30-day trial of vegetarianism while I was in college led to a permanent change, but that long-term result was neither planned nor desired. I only wanted to try it for 30 days, and then I fully expected to go back. When my 30-day trial ended, I basically procrastinated on eating animals for a few more months, mainly out of habit. After about six months, I noticed I’d lost all desire to consume flesh. Sometimes my explorations leave me permanently changed, but I can’t predict when that will happen.

A bucket list is traditionally a list of experiences to have before you kick the bucket, i.e. before you die. This doesn’t mean waiting for retirement. If your bucket list looks anything like mine, it would be utterly foolish to let a few decades pass before you get started.

To me a bucket list is like a bucket of paint. It’s what I use to paint on the canvas of my life — today, not a few decades from now.

I encourage you to adopt a similar mindset. Dip your brush into your current bucket list, and start painting with it today. Pick an item to tackle, and get to it. Don’t wait.

If you happen to share some of my interests and think it would be fun to do them together, please drop me a note, and let’s see if we can tackle one or more of them together. There’s a skydiving place in Vegas. It looks like one tandem jump is about $200 (with various upsells like photos and videos of your jump). Perhaps we can get a group together and make it happen. Who’s up for jumping out of a plane and plummeting to the ground with just a piece of cloth to save your life? :)



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