By Ethan Maurice | August 2, 2016
I tried to focus as the professor droned on about enzyme structures in biochemistry class, but I constantly drifted towards it. It consumed my thoughts as I ran. It filled the moments before I fell asleep and the dreams afterwards. I couldn't stop thinking about all I had to say.
I couldn't stop thinking about this website.
A string of events led to this obsession. It started with a mosquito bite. That bite led to an infection of the fluid surrounding my brain and spine, causing it to swell. The pressure caused seizures and a brain-damaging stroke, which began a multi-year struggle of rehab and dedication towards returning to the “old me.” Around the time two years had passed, I began to wonder if I'd made it back to normal. I thought about that a lot. One day, I asked myself the right question, which stopped the wondering altogether—“Why stop at normal?”
Five years after the mosquito bite, my brother and I bicycled across the United States to raise money for the children's hospital that saved my life. The journey was a success beyond our wildest expectations. We pedaled 4,450 miles, raising over $96,000 for Phoenix Children's Hospital. We were all over the news in Phoenix. Thousands followed my daily ride blog. People wrote to tell me that I inspired them to do amazing things. I discovered that the greatest feeling in the world was helping others live and undertake their own adventures and pursuits.
I wanted to pull it all together—the inspiration, the “how to,” and the use of my life, this shining example of what was possible—but it seemed too good to be true. Wishful thinking. I dismissed such thoughts. Plus, to put thousands of hours into something I will probably never see a financial return on seemed like a stupid gamble. What if nobody noticed? What if it turned out to be one giant waste of time? What if I strayed from the path of success, never to recover?
Medical school was just around the corner. I couldn't justify deviating from the path of becoming a doctor after four years of unwavering dedication toward a Bachelor's Degree. How does one logically walk away from such an investment?
Months went by. The urge grew to the point that any step away from creating this website felt blasphemous. There are many reasons to chase a dream, but what ultimately spurred me wasn't a reason to pursue it, but a consequence of not doing so.
Whatever I did instead of pursuing this idea would have been guilty of killing it.
If I went on to medical school without ever launching The Living Theory, I would always be disappointed with myself for settling. For surrendering my spiritual livelihood so easily in exchange for perceived success. No matter what I accomplished in the medical field, deep down, I would have known I was a sellout if I didn't pursue the one thing that consumed me like nothing else. A step in any other direction would have been spiritual suicide.
Whether The Living Theory one day becomes an actual job and source of income is less important. What I already get from working on this website is more valuable than money. I've already had the chance to assist other cross-country cyclists with their own fundraisers. I've helped people get jobs on cruise ships and WWOOF in Hawaii. I've discussed heavy decisions with high school graduates as they head out into the world and with those who feel a bit lost in it. I just published a guide with the intention to help thousands of people travel the world over the coming years.
As I write these very words, I'm living the dream. I'm singing my song. I'm giving my gift to the world.
If something consumes you, pursue it.
It might not make sense to others.
It might not make you rich.
But I can promise you one thing:
Nothing else will make you feel so alive.