I recently finished reading “First Train out of Denver” by Leo Jenkins.
I can’t exactly remember how I heard about the book in the first place. I think I saw something on Facebook that essentially advertised the book as follows: “An ex-Army Ranger sells his business and every possession that won’t fit into a backpack in order to travel the world.”
As a veteran myself with an adventurers soul, I was instantly hooked. I needed to read about someone who decided to say “fuck it” and step way outside of the expectation for what it means to be a thirty-something member of modern society.
Just what is that expectation, you ask?
Leo describes it in his book as: “Take out loans to go to school, get a job, pay your taxes, get married, buy a house, fill it with things you can’t afford, have kids, raise the kids to go to school, continue working at the job that you no longer enjoy to pay off the schooling and possessions you didn’t really need until you have saved enough to retire, so you can finally enjoy life.”
Sounds pretty horrible, doesn’t it?
Leo Jenkins decided to do something about it, and he goes on to say: “Go ahead, make your retirement plans. Life doesn’t give a shit about your plans; and I no longer give a shit about fitting into that ordained mold.”
With backpack slung, Leo sets out and literally travels around the world. He surfs, drinks, eats, meets new people—and in my opinion—gains an outlook on life that few of us will ever have, but many of us would die for. The book reads like the kind of adventure tale you’d expect from Hemingway, but also does a fantastic job of inserting laugh out loud humor, deep philosophy, and a unique perspective of what it means to be a veteran facing one of the toughest challenges for any soldier: assimilating back into “normal” society. Leo spends many a night during his travels helping fellow veterans with suicidal urges and raising awareness for this and other challenges facing those of us that have served. That’s a pretty damn noble existence if you ask me.
It doesn’t take long to see that Leo is one hell of a storyteller, and it doesn’t matter if you’re interested in adventure/travel stories, social philosophy, or military books; “First Train Out of Denver” is a fantastic read and you should pick up a copy.
In the meantime, go out and do something that makes you happy. Because as Leo says in his book, “Life is too short; too damn precious to spend miserable.”