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One Man's Life of No Regret (2009) (synodwithlife.blogspot.com)
71 points by keiferski 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments

I find stories of people like this to be quite inspiring. It proves how larger and fuller life can be than I've managed, and leads me to take steps -- often literal ones -- in that direction.

Another person I'd put in this category is Ray Jardine. His guides to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail led me to put my sneakers on and try the same. I didn't complete it but it awakened me in a way that staying home does not. Ray is the kind of guy who thinks a good vacation means kayaking around Baja California, rowing across the Atlantic, retracing Northwest Passage or skiing across Antarctica ... shared with his kind adventurous athletic wife Jenny.

I can't follow in these people's footsteps very far. But they document their treks and compulsively teach about them, and that is the next best thing to being there, and helps me adventure more around the edges.

A life lived large embiggens us all.

I can't find anywhere online where it says what his job was. I'm really curious how he financed these adventures.

Now that I think about it, doing the amazing and interesting things are so anomalous, that one could probably make a bit of money doing them. Maybe that's why vloggers are so successful. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

I'm just coming to the end of three years driving around Africa, previously spent two years driving from Alaska to Argentina.

Making money is basically what every single long-term traveler is focused on, and I've yet to meet a single one who is actually paying for full time travel while traveling full time. A few of us (me included) get close by selling magazine articles, writing books, selling photos, etc. etc. It's a job, just a really, really fun job.

I spent the last 10 years backpacking Africa. I never documented my travels. Looking back, I would choose the same path.

hey you the south african dude(who is not s.a) and in the sa4x4 mag that i found on reddit 3 weeks ago :) ?? i just keep finding you everywhere ! You in the tech industry or tech background.. that you hangout on hn !? ps where/who do you sell your photos to ?

I've been following him also...he is everywhere lol.

He mentioned he had a tech job at one point on one of his blog posts.

That's me, but I'm not South African :)

I studied Software Engineering in Australia, I work as that from time to time to top up the savings account, though I hope I never have to do it again.

Awesome ! Semi same boat with the software engineering! Just saw your lesoto article in the new edition ! Was there for my cousin's wedding. Beautiful place !! If you ever in cape town and need a place... loom us up ! :)

I absolutely love your blog (and that Jeep). Been reading it since you started your Africa trip!

Good luck and keep it up.

On his website, he's listed as the author of two books [0], and his about me page mentions that he was in the army for ~3 years. I was looking for info on how he financed these adventures as well, and these were the only things that I could find.

[0] https://www.johngoddard.info/books.htm

So he had a lot of experiences. I don't find that inspiring. What did he invent or make? Whose lives did he make better?

I mean I think you may be missing the point of the story. Whilst I certainly look for satisfaction in inventing / making others life's better this guy is kind of winning at life in other ways.

At stated in the article it seems he lives to learn and share knowledge gained through his adventures.

He's visited 250 tribes I think it's fair to say the knowledge shared between those / few back to society are likely to be significant - just because 'he hasn't invented x' it doesn't mean contributions in other forms do not exist

How would that compare to an anthropologist studying those tribes and then sharing that information through writing?

He'd fare better in my books, because at least he didn't shed their mystery and betrayed their ways, just to write a book or to do his university work.

>What did he invent or make? Whose lives did he make better?

So, you'd be impressed if he had invented the post it note or some computer gizmo? Yeah, that would so much mean that his brief time on earth was well spent and not futile...

Most people don't invent or make anything, and they don't make many other people's lives better (their family's maybe, if that). So there's that.

Besides, if life is only meaningful when making others lives better, does that mean that those others' lives (and life in general) is meaningless in itself?

Inventing something great but otherwise leading a miserable life might be noble, but it's not really something to strive for. Ideally we contribute in a meaningful way, as well as getting something out of life for ourselves.

Is it surprising that some people love apples, and others oranges?

This is for orange lovers, you're an apple guy/gal.

I find it inspiring. I love to travel and explore, and while I've got nothing on this guy, I've done plenty of similar things.

I don't find Steve Jobs inspiring. The guy was an egomaniac, treated people like shit, invented and innovated a lot, but didn't do it for altruistic reasons and did almost nothing to help even his own family, much less all of humanity. He made a lot of peoples' jobs easier and perhaps better in practical ways, but he's not an inspirational figure to me at all.

You don't have to leave anything tangible behind to inspire others, and you can build a lot while still not being an inspiration.

I'm having trouble wondering what the point of your comment is, and I do not want to try to "read between the lines".

I am sure there are a lot of things that don't inspire you, yet I kind of doubt you spend much time going to all those forums explicitly pointing it out. Likewise, I suspect you wouldn't care much for people going to maker/inventor forums commenting on how inventions don't inspire them.

He inspired others.

The one that brought him the most pleasure and excitement was his family, he doesn't hesitate to say. If we take him at his word, you could optimize for pleasure and excitement by starting a family and skipping all that other stuff.

That doesn't follow, even if he meant what he said entirely literally.[1]

An analogy: many recipes have one or two ingredients that contribute most of the flavour -- but you can't optimize a chocolate cake for tastiness by forgetting about the cake and guzzling a bowlful of cocoa and sugar.

More concretely, balance is very important in most people's lives. And even if family life isn't the kind of thing that necessarily 'wears thin' the way some activities do, who's to say he would have been the same kind of father or husband without all those other sides of his life? Maybe his adventurous spirit is part of what attracted his wife to him, and maybe he would have found it harder to be a good father if he hadn't also been fulfilled in other ways.

[1] I don't think the only alternatives are 'literally true' or 'crowd-pleasing bullshit'. He may have meant it sincerely but not quite literally, i.e. he may genuinely value his family above all else, and see them as the greatest contributor to his enjoyment of life, even if they aren't literally more exciting than jumping out of an aeroplane.

I thought the same, while reading the article I was like "I don't want to do this, I want to be with my (baby) daughter!"

Keep in mind, he might just be saying what he thinks the public (and/or his wife!) wants to hear, but I tend to agree with you. I don't even leave the house unless I get reeeeally restless (which is rare now that I'm a computer nerd), or run out of supplies, or have to go to that pesky "job" thing I seem to have gotten myself involved with.

The realization that you see the world from other perspectives, grow them in your brain by reading, totally destroyed my childhood idea that life was all about experiencing a series of cool stuff.

For me, life is about growing intellectually, broadening my mind or going to strange inner creative places, knowing myself.

This is the real journey, and probably a large part of travel and adventure too - it just doesn't always have to be the Matterhorn, it could be Bitcoin, Nuclear Fusion, Electric VTOL, Quantum computing etc.

I find the notion that a life without regret is a list of x things to be ticked off over the course of a lifetime quite simplistic. I don't have a better answer. But it is definitely not a list, at least not for me.

Here's my take -- the list is incidental. It could have been anything. The key here is that he engaged with his dreams in a real way. He thought about them, made them concrete, and then tried to actualize them. He gave his life a goal and a self-directed "meaning."

Imagine if he tried to do the things on his list, but failed. Would he be less happy? Probably not.

Of course, this is all assuming that he is truly the "completely satisfied" person that the article paints him to be. I doubt any person is quite so simple as that.

You’re probably right. A list is at least a very conscious way of living. Probably more conscious than most

I think it's actually even simpler. If you se a set a function of value you in your life and you build a feedback loop to track how much of that value you are achieving, you're probably gonna have a good time.

Especially a list you write when you're 15 years old. It probably morphed a bit throughout his lifetime as he gained more knowledge. I can't imagine my 39 year old self wanting to complete every task my 15 year old self put on a bucket list.

My 15 year old self wanted to open for Korn and ski in the winter X Games. To date I have no regrets that either of these haven’t happened yet.

Good point. I don’t see myself desecrating a historical monument (climbing the Pyramid of Keops) just to tick off a bucket list point, but I admit it does look ‘cool’ to a 15 year old.

What about regretting your behaviour or how you treated someone

Most of my regrets come from this.

Don’t regret opportunities to grow. Only regret if you don’t grow from them.

This is a subtle, but underappreciated sentiment. Hindsight is 20/20. Beating yourself up when things don't go your way is a destructive form of regret. Learning from your decisions to get better at forward prediction is more constructive.

I have situations in life where i treated someone badly and there is no way to make up for it. I definitely regret these.

I think what you are talking about is where you did something and it didn’t work out for yourself.

Even in those cases, you can learn empathy and perspective. Introspection, understanding what you were feeling and why you acted/reacted the way you did is opportunity for growth. A lot of times, you can trace it back to a root insecurity, jealousy, or fear.

Totally agree. But the regret stays. I think it should stay because it’s too easy to just brush it off and say “let’s move on”.

The alternative seems quite self-obsessed, too. When people who have hurt others, and then reformed, say that they have no regrets because everything that happened made them the person they are today, that is a big red flag to me (unless 'the person they are today' really has done some amazingly altruistic things to make amends). It comes across almost solipsistic, like the only thing that matters is their own character and their own story.

edit: and of course, 'people who have hurt others' encompasses all of us, to greater or lesser degrees. I'm not saying that none of us should be happy with who we are, or that we should never admit that we think things turned out for the best, weighing the good against the bad. But surely most of us have some things we really would do differently if we had our time again.

I think it is healthy to feel regret at having caused hurt, even if you consider it collateral damage related to your own personal growth.

I regret a thing, because it impacted someone else. Evaluating it as solely as my personal growth opportunity strikes me as royally selfish. Whatever I learned from that does not undo said impact.

I don't think the article claims a life without regret = a bucket list. In fact it doesn't even use the word "regret" outside the title

There's a film from 1955 of this guy kayaking down the Nile over 9 months in 1950 and 1951 here: [1]

He, along with his two French companions were the first to explore the entire Nile river.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFr4bTfm40c

Good for this guy. He had a lot of experiences. But it comes across as bragging to me, more than it does inspirational.

What a strange blog post, the author did a copy-paste job of the man's story but never in there did s/he write what s/he personally learned from reading about the guy that s/he wishes to share by blogging about him.

And the last paragraph is just another point by point list of what that man did...

A life worth living is one with goals you progress towards/on, they don't need to be completed as the journey is the reward.

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