My first post here is to introduce the story behind my reasons for deciding to embark on this journey and perhaps, to explain who I am and what I stand for.
I believe that we are a product of our own lives. We are all born with unique traits that interdependently interact with different environments and circumstances that, together, make us who we are today. Each of us is being molded by one’s environment, upbringing, culture, family and friends – I am no exception.
Since I can remember, I have always been adventurous, curious and for some folks, even reckless. I was also very fortunate because I was born into loving family. My parents are still together, still loving each other as well me and my sister. They both worked blue collar jobs and despite not always being able to afford everything we wanted, they gave us all they could and what we needed. I remember that when I was 12 or 13, instead of buying a car after almost a decade of not owning one, they bought me the best PC at the time (around 1997) – Pentium II with MMX processor. They believed that was more important for my future growth, and indeed it was. I was able to develop a great technological foundation, which helped me with my work throughout high school and college; and I am still benefiting to this day.
Looking back, the more I think about it, the more I realize the gravity and significance of their sacrifice and love. I also realize how important it is to have a family, with both parents (but that is a thought for different blog entry). They never held back on letting me know much I was loved, but also strictly disciplining me when needed; and oh, was it needed, especially during my teens.
Growing up, I was also encouraged by my parents to pursue things that made me happy so as long as I was good in school. So I played every sport that was there to play, though in team sports I’d usually get dismissed after the second training session by the coach for being disruptive, that is, disobeying authority and refusing to follow orders, which was probably true. Regardless of whether it was handball, soccer or baseball, I was eventually asked to leave, most likely due to the fact that I didn’t like to be drilled and commanded around. I preferred hanging out and having fun with my friends, but that was not what my parents had in mind. Therefore in high school, I started to focus more on individual (vs. team) sport activities such as biking, martial arts and lifting weights , which remained with me till today.
Since I was a child, I have always had a very strong bond with nature. I spent every summer in the outdoors than at home; I loved swimming in the river / lake and riding my bicycle everywhere. I’d often just go up a hill through the nearby woods and be alone – to sit, think, reflect and relax. That’s how I would get my bearings growing up. I didn’t know what I was doing back then, but now I understand that I was meditating in my own way and it felt great. Sometimes I’d sit out there for hours. Even though I was pretty social (a few very good friends with whom I remain in contact until this day), I also enjoyed being alone. The woods and castle nearby were my playground, I was always imagining how it must have been back in medieval times and was always hoping to find some hidden treasures buried beneath the castle somewhere. I would climb its stone walls, trying to break in to explore around. Even though I was considered trespassing, I was always respectful (I never had any desire to vandalize or damage property) and was rather grateful to be able to do the things I did and not ever being caught.
Inspired by the wonders of the vast views of nature, I picked up photography. I often had my camera with me while I was exploring the countryside as it is surrounded by hills, rocks, mountains and open fields extending to beyond the horizon. This is what I miss most now that I am in New York City – having the ability to walk only a few blocks out of my house, which is located close to the downtown area, and I could be in the middle of the woods completely alone within 10 minutes.
My hometown in Náchod, Czech Republic is located near the border with Poland where there is a very wide system of bunkers (I loved the catacombs, and knew everything about them) left behind from the period 1936-1938 that were built by Czech soldiers and civilians as protection against Hitler. Of course, the bunkers were never active, as our country was “sold” to Hitler in 1938 with the Munich Agreement or rather Munich Betrayal by Nazi Germany, the United Kingdom, the French Third Republic, and the Kingdom of Italy. As a quick side note, I still believe the Nazis would have never been able to cross our borders if these bunkers were put to use.
Despite not being able to access open nature within a 10-minute walk, I am still inspired by what my current hometown, New York City, has to offer. I never dreamed of living in a big city like this one, which has so much diversity, bringing people together from all over the world. For those who have never lived in NYC, this place is truly one of a kind. It is hard not to feel a little proud to be able to live in such an amazing city; it is in a great country after all.
Life here is very fast paced, and it can become one very scary routine and before you realize it, your life is just “work-home, work-home, maybe 2-week vacation if you’re lucky and then back to home-work, home-work.” Not saying that it’s horrible, and I think for most people this is completely fine. You can still somewhat enjoy your weekends. At the end of the day, it’s not so bad – there are some great places to hike just one hour upstate (it’s no 10-minutes, but it’s something!). You can also travel around to Washington D.C. or Boston. If you feel like getting a feel for a different country, Canada is only a six-hour drive up North; I do like Montreal as it reminds me Europe little bit.
Having all that said, at some point or another I feel like I exhausted my curiosity here. I think I know this city as a native would, especially having hosted a few friends from back home – basically, I became the tour guide on many occasions and during one of their stays, I explored and visited almost every museum and landmark there is.
After reflecting on past accomplishments and looking forward, I feel more and more like I haven’t really done anything overly significant, other than leaving home, starting a new life, becoming a deep sea diver in the Gulf of Mexico and some occasional travels; I just don’t think that is enough for me to look back at the age of 80 and say, “Wow, my life was epic. I did this amazing thing…”. I have been dreaming about the next big adventure – perhaps, to climb Mount Everest, travel across Africa or South America, do some great cave diving, dive with sharks, but somehow, I did not feel the sense of fulfillment that I felt before.
As I was thinking about my next adventure, I did plan on diving with sharks in the coast of California. I came across this one podcast where Larry King was interviewing Dan Bilzerian, who I didn’t know anything about other than his famous Instagram video. At the end of the interview when Larry asked him what he would think of doing now when he has seemingly done almost everything there is as a successful entrepreneur – he replied, “row across the North Atlantic since so little people have done it,” which planted a seed in my mind right then and there. That was earlier this year in January. I let it go for couple of months (no action taken, but still at the back of my mind) and then one night, I just decided to do some research online. Fast forward 6 months later, here I am getting ready to cross the Atlantic ocean.
I feel that this is precisely the adventure I have been waiting for – unique, tough, solo, in the unknown territory, something that will test my mind, my body and spirit. I’d be the first Czech who’d ever cross the ocean in the history of my country, and that’s totally awesome. Being the competitive person that I am, there was no need to think twice about that one – the very first one leaving from New York? Yup, I was hooked. I’d also be the first U.S. citizen to depart from the U.S. going to the U.K.
When Bryce Carlson, the first U.S. citizen to successfully cross the Atlantic, asked me couple of weeks ago how important it is for me to leave from NY since I am basically adding 1,000 miles on top of the trip that he did from St. Johns Newfoundland, I truly realized how meaningful this journey really was. And no, I would not take any other route – this is my home, my city, and this has been the first point of entry for many immigrants throughout history. I will be passing by key landmarks like Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty as I journey across the Ocean, from my current home in New York back to Europe, where I am came from. There can’t be anything better than this. This city has over 15 million people and I am the only fool who going for this adventure. Sometimes, in order to progress and take things to the next level, you need to “step outside the box” and take some risks – don’t be afraid of failure, a statement that resonates with me now more than ever.
To clarify, I am not looking to break any speed records, I just want to make it across safely and make some awesome memories that I can look back on and think, “that was epic”. I am well aware that this challenge will be more mental than physical. I would like to get to know myself again – to rediscovery my limits and see whether I am able to endure this on my own. In the end, I am the one who has to spend the rest of my life with, so I better have something to remember.
In today’s world, we are surrounded by social media – which in my opinion can be very disingenuous and exceedingly narcissistic. I see people posting pictures of their meals, coffees, half nude bodies and insane amount of selfies – and what’s even more insane is that they have thousands of followers. That is bizarre to me. On the other hand, there are some folks who do some amazing work, such as endurance athletes, explorers, humanitarians, charities, scientists, in short, people who help others and want to make the world a better place by cleaning oceans, trying to preserve nature, fighting for our planet but sadly enough, these people aren’t getting as many likes, followers or any sort of support from social media. I feel like our recognition of what really matters in life has shifted drastically over the last few decade with the expansion of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other media. People are more focused on materialism and showing off – money, good looks, nice pictures, which I find rather silly.
If I were to post anything in social media, I’d like to provide people with some meaningful content – something they can look at and actually be inspired to do better and be better, something that can motivate them to do something extraordinary like following their craziest dreams and not living their lives thinking it’s just matter of survival or routine, but rather a matter of fulfillment.
I think we are indeed living in the best times in history, where people can openly express themselves to the world. The degree to which we are all connected is incredible. We can all touch each other’s lives on a whole different level. So let’s use social media wisely and bring in some real content, genuine stories to inspire ourselves and others.
With that said, this story is about me fulfilling my dreams and I encourage others to do the same.