My Journey So Far

Hi! I'm John Oden, the founder of Aspire. I created Aspire because I wanted to share my passion for living the best possible version of life.

While growing up in suburban America, I remember having a really consistent feeling of uneasiness. I felt that, despite the material possessions available to me as afforded by my upper middle class parents, something was not quite right. People around me did not seem happy. I felt that many aspects of the society were completely devoid of any real meaning and that this was manifesting in a sort of general malaise where everyone seemed to be at least partially depressed. Also, the average person seemed extremely busy and not able to afford themselves the time to explore activities and artistic endeavors which would actually make them feel fulfilled. This was all quite clear to me then but I could not envision a specific alternative. 

As a young adult, I basically tried to suppress these feelings that something was wrong with the "normal" track of college plus a master's degree as a lawyer, business-person, or doctor. I attended college, obtained my undergraduate degree in philosophy, and was promptly unable to get a decent job. After fumbling around for a few years, I went back to school and got my MBA in Finance. The global financial crisis hit while I was in school, which had the effect of flooding the finance job market with candidates much more qualified than me, all competing for essentially no open positions. So I graduated with a mountain of student debt, no job, and no real prospects despite being an over-achiever all my life and also being very highly educated.

I had previously thought that if I just achieved enough, everything would work out. But my many achievements, such as being the Texas state debate champion in high school, being nationally ranked at debate in college, getting a graduate degree, securing a prestigious internship, not to mention being an Eagle Scout and a Black Belt in Tai Kwon Do, all seemed meaningless at the time because they didn't produce opportunity for me when I felt I most needed it. 

Combine that with some issues in my personal life and I arrived at a point where I just felt like the map I had been provided by society for how to live my life had completely failed me. I resolved to draw my own map, to figure out how to maximize my happiness while positively contributing to the world around me and while providing myself with feelings of security rather than empty busyness. 

As I progressed on my path, I had two main breakthroughs:

1) I encountered the idea that, no matter what your circumstances, you can choose to experience your life in your own mind however you want. In other words, you are in control of how you react to whatever circumstances you find yourself in. This is extremely empowering because it means you have the ability to shape your own experience (preferably for the positive) of your reality, no matter what life circumstances are thrown your way. 

2) I discovered that directly interacting with nature provided me with a sense of connection, whereas before I had been feeling disconnected (from everything, everyone, and society at large). As I experimented with gardening and learned about various approaches to ecology, I discovered something called permaculture, which is basically an approach to gardening which is so wise and advanced that it provides a lens through which we can understand what a healthy lifestyle in general would look like.

These two concepts, once fully explored, provided me with the basis for a positive alternative to the way I had been experiencing my reality previously. I began experimenting with different ways to materialize this new understanding and one experiment led to another which led to another. I looked up one day and realized I should have been keeping some kind of record of all these experiments and that I also wanted to connect with other life explorers. This was the genesis of Aspire. 

Aspire is a way for me to clarify my thinking about these subjects which are so critical to me, a way to document and share my experiments, and a way to record what I feel are insights which could be of benefit to others now and in the future. Most importantly, Aspire will provide hub of interactivity which should hopefully develop these ideas much further. I think we all want to leave the world a better place than we found it and for me Aspire is part of that world betterment plan. 

An interesting aspect of life is that you are constantly choosing who you are going to be. In other words, existence itself is an act of creation. Rather than being one static entity, you are actually an ongoing state of becoming. Aspire helps you focus on ways to create that best version of yourself and to radiate positivity out into the world from wherever you are. 

Thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful day!