Could You Give It All Up to Follow Your Dream?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Eustace Conway is a man who never accepted the word no, who never worried about how others perceived his life, who never gave up on his dream.

Who is Eustace Conway?

"By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree. By the time he was ten, he could hit a running squirrel at fifty feet with a bow and arrow. When he turned twelve, he went out into the woods, alone and empty-handed, built himself a shelter, and survived off the land for a week. When he turned seventeen, he moved out of his family's home altogether and headed into the mountains, where he lived in a teepee of his own design, made fire by rubbing two sticks together, bathed in icy streams, and dressed in the skins of the animals he had hunted and eaten."

Author Elizabeth Gilbert called him "The Last American Man" (in the biography of the same name, excerpted above); others have named him a modern-day Daniel Boone.

More simply--and more importantly--he's a man who's following his dream.

During a long weekend spent at the beach, I read Gilbert's eloquent and riveting biography of Conway. I couldn't put it down. And I couldn't slow down my mind. I felt so inspired, so energized.
What inspired me was not his prowess in the wilderness or how he overcame a rough childhood and an overbearing father, but his sheer determination. (His "anything is possible" mindset reminds me a bit of our own SparkGuy!)
Eustace Conway sees a challenge and barrels right through it.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail in winter with little more than the clothes on his back.

Crossing the country on horseback in just 103 days.

Kayaking across Alaska.

Hiking the Alps in sneakers.

Living in a tepee in the woods for years, all the while studying English and anthropology at Appalachian State University--and graduating with honors.
Living for months with indigenous tribes in Guatemala.

Racing across the Great Plains, parts of Canada and the northern U.S. in a horse and buggy.

Acquiring about 1,000 acres of Appalachian wilderness and building the Turtle Island Preserve, a sustainable, primitive farm and education center.

He's done all that and more--and he's not yet 50.

Eustace believes that humans are losing touch with the Earth, and he believes it is his destiny to help us reconnect. To say he's driven would be an understatement.

What I took away from Eustace's story is that anything is possible, if we believe in it enough. Whether you dream of retreating to the woods and learning how to build tepees, becoming a champion triathlete or gaining confidence in yourself, it is possible.

The human mind is amazingly strong, if we truly commit ourselves to our goals. Eustace reminded me to live each day with passion and commitment. I encourage you to do the same! In the mean time, watch this interview with Eustace.

Have you heard of Eustace's story? Does he inspire you?
What have you accomplished in life that others doubted? What goals still await you?

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Never heard of Eustace Conway before, and will look him up. A dream like that would be difficult for me, and tear up the family. On the other hand, from his point of view, sounds like he didn't have much of a family life that was good for him and that he could value, so I can't blame him for perusing such a dream. It is somewhat easier for those types of "hermit" dreams to play out when one is not involved in a romantic relationship, unless one can find that rare person who shares a similar dream. So it kind of depends on one's dream and how it could impact others around a person. Report
SPINECCO 12/11/2018
Very inspiring. Report
thanks for sharing Report
My high school and I recently took a vacation together and she started how proud she was of me that I’ve accomplished so much in my life. I am a risk taker and used to be quite the shy one. We have to walk out in faith. Report
I am NOT inspired by reading about anyone who is cruel to animals. I feed squirrels, and I do not appreciate reading about people who find it amusing to senselessly kill a fellow creature purely for sport. I give up a lot of things so that I can feed squirrels. When developers are having a field day cutting down trees all around me, and the squirrels have so much less to eat, I have this little oasis they can come to and get fed and find something to drink. I go without books and CDs and new clothes. I skip the gym and exercise at home. I do give everything up, and you know what? I'm happy! And the squirrels that I feed are happy! So there! Report
Some of this stuff is silly. It would be good for a dream to have a point. Report
Great article Report
great job amazing Report
I have kept this article for a while to make sure I got the correct book. I just finished reading the well written story by Elizabeth Gilbert and really appreciate her insights. Guess it is even more interesting because it all happened in NC, where I live. I even looked up Turtle Island (what Eustace calls his domain) on the Internet and found more items of interest.
Thanks, Stepfanie, for a well-written blog. Report
That's an amazing story. I have to say I'm jealous. Though I have no desire to hunt my own food, I've always dreamed about what it would be like to live a simple, back to basics life. I'm fascinated by stories like this and inspired. It makes me want to give up the tv's, computers, and other electronics that distract us from each other and the earth. Maybe someday I can do a fraction of the things he's done. Report
What an amazing individual! Report
Darn! Looks like I have yet another book to add to my "to read" list! Sounds like this is right up my alley. Report
I chose to be inspired. Some people would never want a simple, primitve life. I have always dreamed of living as he does. II read "My side of the mountain" too as a child and ran away many times to escape myself. Wherever I go there I am! I can either improve my lifes experience or alow life to deteriorate. Fending for oneself and living in harmony with nature is a delightful goal. Anything can be done but all things have consequences as well as payoffs. Lonelyness is not just a concequence of living alone in the wild. Crowds of people do not fill that void for me. I must be comfortable with myself before I can have healthy relationships. I wish Mr. Conway a fulfilled and complete life and from how he has managed thus far if he wants a family, he will become part of one. Report
I think the whole point is... no matter what his reason for doing it is...he has chosen to live his life and enjoy it completely.. are you? am I?

[Spark people could stand on their head and give everything they have and they would still have people upset with them. I say GREAT JOB you are all doing.] Report
Interesting comments... Personally, I think this guy has accomplished a lot - perhaps not the same things I want to accomplish but that doesn't lessen the thought, effort, commitment and just plain hard work that went into the accomplishments. This man's story, to me, was about a man pushing himself to find what he's made of but instead of doing it by climbing in the corporate jungle - he did it in the Appalachians.

I marvel at the COMMITMENT it takes to live like he does... and that's one thing that we could all stand to take a lesson about. I hope he does find a wife with whom to share his passions.

The one thing I noticed in the video was how calm he was... it's a stark contrast to the sometimes frenetic world I live in.
This man really inspired me. It is hard to believe in this day and age that a person can still live like thtat. When I was young, I thought we lived primative but it was nothing like this. This just goes to show us that dreams can be lived no matter what they are. Report
It reminds me a little of a great book I read with my kids a few years ago. It's called: "My Side of the Mountain," and it was written by Jean Craighead George. It's about a boy from a large family who runs away from home to find his grandfather's abandoned farm in the Adirondacks. He hollows out a tree for shelter, teaches himself survival skills, and adopts a young peregrine falcon to hunt with him and keep him company. There are also a couple of sequels. I think it made a deep impression on my kids. It's perfect for boys and girls about 7-10 years of age. I really liked it too. Report
That life is not for me but I'm going to read his story. He is very fascinating. Report
Wow! Sounds like an interesting read! Report
A delightful tale- thank you so much for sharing.
Everybody who serves does that in his or her own way.

Some of us are inspired by one story: others by another.

Galileo was threatened by the inquisition for speaking plain truth.

It is not my job to judge other people.

It is my job to choose who I'll trust, and with what.

When I have to decide between trusting two people who aren't like me, I may not choose first to trust those who have chosen to use their own time differently than I have chosen to use mine, but neither will I choose to trust them last.

This man seems to me to be setting an interesting and useful example. I can't follow it, but I find it worth learning about.

Thanks for the post! Report
I couldn't agree more with NancyJac. I am surprised to see this on Sparkpeople! What happened t the idea of a healthy, balanced life? Speaking at a graduation ceremony, Albert Schweitzer once said, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but there is one thing I do know. Those of you who will be happy will be those of you who have sought and found how to serve." Albert Schweitzer - now there's an inspiring man! Report
I feel rather sorry for him. His "adventures" seem more like addiction to thrill highs or a deep seeded need to excel in unconventional ways. Giving "it all up to follow a dream" isn't much of an accomplishment when you sacrefice friends, family and most everything else in the pursuit of a lifetime of relatively meaningless accomplishments. An epithat of "nailed chipmuck to a tree and hiked in sneakers" just doesn't seem like a very productive life to me. I rather resent the comparison to Daniel Boone, who may have done some similar things, but did so out of necessity, not just to prove he could. Boone was literally a trail blazer, soldier, husband, and father of 10 children. Report
Throwing a knife through a chipmunk. Now learning that was time well spent - NOT! Report
I am envious of his accomplishments. I would like to live off the grid, but I like running hot water, computer, sewing machine. The closest to nature right now, is my veggie and flower garden. I have to work to pay the taxes on my land and house. This is an amazing way to live! Kudos to Eustace. Report
Been there, done that. Wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I prefer a life of luxury.

If anyone here wants to try, go for it! Report
I had never heard of him before, but will get that book and read it for sure. Very inspiring. Report
I absolutely believe that anything is possible when we harness the energy from God, ourselves, our friends, family, and earth. I have yet to be able to still my mind long enough to tap my resources. Hats off to Eustace in his life! Report
After reading this, it reminded me of a message that I heard at church on Wednesday. It was about really believing that God can help us move mountains in our life and not forgetting to bring our requests to Him with expectation of them coming true. Many times, we dream of the impossible while in our minds we are telling ourselves that it will never happen for us. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to dreaming BIG and believing that God will deliver. So, dream big, do your part, and watch God WORK!!! Report
After kayaking in Alaska myself this past week, I have a whole newfound admiration for what this man has done with his own life.

Keelin Report
What a great inspiring story. Send chills down my spine and brougth tears to my eyes. Report
I have never heard of Eustace until this blog and I live in NC! But I do admire him for following his 'drummer'. I have to confess that I really like my conveniences and would really have a hard time doing what he does but then again thats not my 'Drummer'!
Okay, it's great to follow a dream, and I give credit to Mr. Conway for going for his chosen lifestyle. But....reality check. Mr. Conway has no wife or children, so he can do what he wants. He apparently had parents that didn't have a problem with a 12 year old going out on his own for a week at a time, or a 17 year old permanently going out to live in a tepee. So, he had a family that supported him, mentally and possibly financially. I don't see that he "gave up" anything he wanted, frankly. I do see someone who's in the envious position of being able to do what he wants without worrying about the responsibilities the rest of us have. Did his story inspire me? Not really. Many years ago, I came in contact with an 89 year old woman being ordained (that may not be the right word, but it's the closest I could come) as a rabbi, a lifelong dream that at one point was off-limits to her because of her gender. That's the kind of story that inspires me. Report
Very nice story! With God, All things are possible! Report
Great article. We all need to get back to the basics. Not many Americans could do what he has done we are spoiled. Report
the thing is that we can pick and choose what parts of a simple life appeal to us. Growing our own food, using less oil based, creating and using less stuff. Of of these help people's happiness quotient. This man's dream should be all of our dreams at least in part. Very inspiring Report
I've added the book to my wish list! Report
I'm impressed by his ability to make a living by doing something he loves to do. I have let so many dreams slip away due to my lack of self confidence. I would love to find a way to take on my dreams but balance the needs of my family as well. Report
I hadn't heard of Mr. Conway. He certainly doesn't look "almost 50," he looks about 30! I think what he's done is admirable and impressive. And the article DID say what he has done for money: he teaches people about his way of life, and gives lessons like riding lessons for that little girl in the video. Report
Eustace sounds very brave, but lonely. Good luck finding a wife who wants that lifestyle! Report
Very inspiring story. Report
VERY inspiring. I gave up everything I knew 8 months ago and moved 700 miles away from friends and family to follow a dream. I have't achieved it yet but I'm still determined. Report
Inspiring! Report
Very interesting. I have no desire to be a modern day Daniel Boone because I'm living in luxury (compared to Eustace). I'm sure if one attempted to do half what he has, we would have a totally different outlook on life. All I an say is wow! Report
What an inspiring story. Sadly, I fall into the more timid variety of human.... Report
Wow, what an interesting person! Report
Thank you for sharing - I'll definitely be looking for the book! Do bring us more such examples of people who exemplify Sinatra's "I did it MY way!"

Thank you for this fascinating blog! Report