Mind over Splatter & The Elimination of Obstacles

Bridge Jumping in Banos Ecuador
Don't Look Down.

How much do we really know about ourselves until we push past what we currently think is possible and achieve more than what we’re comfortable with doing?

When I was 15 years old my dad took my brother, sister and I to an amusement park in the Wisconsin Dells.

As we approached the park you could see this massive tower casting an intimidating shadow over the property. Faint screams echoed into the parking lot as miniature figures threw themselves off the tower’s ledge with only a bungee cord securing their future.

My brother, 5 years my senior, and sister, 17 at the time, saw the madness as another adventure to conquer.

I saw it as another reason to shit my pants.

They climbed up the narrow caged in stairwell, tied some rope around their ankles and jumped off.

Landing safely on the giant blow-up mat below, both rolled off and unhooked their gear with this incredible jubilation and excitement that only something that intense could suck out.

I on the other hand, kept my feet firmly on the ground the entire time. I was scared to death.

I didn’t make eye contact with any of them before or after the jump in hopes they wouldn’t ask for my excuse again. I caught the wrath for being the family chicken, but it was nothing compared to the idea of throwing myself off that ledge.

I never felt so weak and inadequate as I did that day. My family was able to overcome their fears to achieve something great while I was crippled by my own state-of-mind.

I’ve remembered it ever since.

Bridge Jumping in Banos Ecuador
Gearing Up.

Fast-forward 12 years. I’m standing on a tiny metal platform on the wrong side of the San Francisco Bridge in Baños, Ecuador. I’m 100 meters (328 feet) above a small river that runs through the canyon below with only a harness and Spiderman t-shirt to protect me.

I went into Baños with a task at hand.

I saw an advertisement for the bridge jump in Quito before arriving and knew this would be a great opportunity to test myself. I needed to prove that there was nothing I couldn’t overcome. Not to be completely fearless but have the ability to push myself physically, mentally and psychologically to become the person I want to be. To think of everything like my brother and sister did back then, like just another adventure to conquer.

I signed up for the leap within a half hour of arriving in Baños, but had to wait until we returned from a white water rafting excursion that morning to execute my mission. I thought about the jump the entire time while rafting.

2pm arrived and my adrenaline was rushing with the thought of what came next. We returned to the tour office where the bridge jump coordinator was waiting. We made the short walk down to the bridge where the wind had picked up and a crowd began to gather. There was no one else waiting so I walked right up to be harnessed in. I was told to jump straight out, asked if I wanted to buy weed after the jump and then was told, “okay we’re ready.” Just like that. I ignored the small talk and stepped up and over the ledge without hesitation.

With the wind blowing, people gasping and river rushing, I looked straight down and said to myself “you are what you create.”

3, 2, 1 Jump!

Bridge Jumping in Banos, Ecuador
Anything is possible after this moment.

With a big face first leap forward, my stomach instantly reached my throat as the water zoomed closer and my arms flailed in the crisp afternoon air.

The harness slammed against my balls and I was swung backwards under the bridge. I did it.

This was what that jubilation felt like. Nothing could stop me. The biggest mental obstacle that has haunted me for over a decade was gone. I laughed out loud as I was lowered to the river’s edge.

Bridge Jumping in Banos Ecuador

We are all given the opportunity to create our own destiny, to write our own legend. For me, I needed to make this jump to prove something to myself, for someone else it could be a completely different obstacle.

The entire concept of this blog is within this story. My current state-of-mind, dedication to constant improvement and excitement for the future drives me to push the limits of my own psyche.

For the past 2 years, I have continuously asked myself the same 3 questions… are you pushing your own limitations? Do you have the guts to create something great? Are you happy with the person in the mirror?

While I’m nowhere near where I want to be in my life, its moments like this, standing on the edge of that bridge alone with my own doubts that reassure me that I’m on my way.

Life is my bitch and now I’m in control.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


    1. Thanks Ryan, I would like to think it was a strategy to stop me thinking about the jump, but I really don’t know if he wasn’t high off his own supply.

  1. I did not know which one was the best to submit regarding this pix so I will let you and your readers decide. The Wisdom of Yoda: Meaningful Quotations & Famous Yoda Sayings:
    1. “Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.”
    Meaning: When we become too caught up about worries of what the future may hold, we forget to live in the present. Fear and worry of the future brings on depression, frustration, anger, and other dark thoughts. In truth, the future rarely happens as we imagine it to be.
    2. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
    Meaning: All negative emotions are a result of fear. Understanding what you are afraid of is where you begin to conquer fear, and therefore anger and hate. Look at the things you hate, at the things that make you angry… and ask yourself why. It will always lead back to a lack of understanding, and in turn fear, of the unknown. Push through the fear and you will discover a well of peace and understanding.

    1. I choose #2 because I don’t believe #1. I dictate my future and it will be whatever I imagine it to be. #2 is solid, thanks Yoda.

    1. Welcome Benjamin, thanks for stopping by. The only reason I didn’t jump in my birthday suit is because of the harness chafing factor. If I would have only been strapped by the ankles I would have definitely considered letting Excalibur & Co. fly free.

  2. 1.) I love that your mom left a comment as “mom” haha

    and 2.) Everything that you had to say was awesome. Conrgats on taking on that fear, now I wonder if your siblings, now that they are older would do that jump again today?
    Cailin recently posted..London makes me happyMy Profile

    1. Nothing has changed over the past decade, they are just as wild as always. The only thing holding my sister back now is a bun in the oven and my brother has to think about his 2 kids first. Suckas!

  3. Hi Gareth
    I recently discovered your blog and have really enjoyed most 🙂 of your posts. I have a dream of living in south America. I am a passionate spanophile. Living in Singapore is treating me well for now but your blog is definitely an inspiration. I am soooo scared of bungee jumping and of other adventurous sports. This year I have conquered my fears by trying rock climbing in krabi and the zip line in chiang mai. One step at a time 😉 this post was very motivating and I could definitely relate. Maybe this is the year for me to give it a try ….. Hasta luego !
    Beatrice recently posted..Manila, PhilippinesMy Profile

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