Léandre is on an adventure around the world without fossil fuels, living in gift economy, and learning how to be a nomad that builds a better world.
I believe that the key to a better future world is working in the gift economy, and a big part of my adventure is trying to help people around me without expectation of anything in return for my efforts. In working through the gift economy, I feel like I’m getting around the fake relationships that money creates, and I’m breaking concepts like time. Instead of focusing on the number of hours that I’m being paid for my work, or feeling that people owe me things if I do something for them, I simply work with the person to fulfill their needs and see what happens.
I’m also on an adventure to figure out how being nomadic and traveling as a lifestyle can build a better world. Living nomadically definitely helps me to understand the diversity of how we frame our earth’s needs, and has opened my mind to the way that different people and places operate. Although I know that living in a fixed place is not for me (I’ve tried it several times), I’m still discovering the best ways to make this life one that fully helps our earth.
One way that I’m trying is traveling by bicycle, on foot, and without motorized vehicles. When I started traveling by bicycle, it pushed me to leave a life of overconsumption behind because there’s only so much space on a bike. With no motors or animals to carry what I need for survival and a basic level of comfort, I have to be a minimalist, which is perfect for me because I want to have a very simple life. It’s also good for our earth because I’m not in a cycle of extracting resources from her to buy new things all the time.
In addition to helping the earth by reducing my impact, traveling without fossil fuel vehicles has had a surprising impact on others. People get curious about this crazy dude riding a bamboo bike, ask me what I’m doing, and take some inspiration from my journey. Although I’m not doing Limitless for recognition, I’m happy when my choices inspire people.
Léandre’s dreams of adventure started during his simple childhood on an organic farm.
All this definitely started in my childhood. I was born in a very remote place in the South of France and had a very simple life. My parents were farmers and taught me and my sister how to eat from the earth, and trade what we grew. I had just a few human friends, and my best friends were my dog and the nature around me. My hobbies as a child were going outside and playing and being free to roam through nature.
My parents were also both travelers and expats. Although we were living in Les Cevennes on an organic farm, my father was born in Belgium and my mother was born in Morocco. Growing up I heard the stories of my mom doing a transatlantic crossing and riding her bike through Scotland, and heard the tales of my father’s nomadic life as well. We also had a lot of travelers that lived and worked with us over the years.
My childhood home home was full of stories of adventure, and I remember reading magazines about different tribes around the world, watching documentaries about nature and animals, and learning about the ocean explorations of Jacques Coustau. With these as my references, I feel like I always wanted to discover and explore the world. I was telling people that I was going to be an adventurer as early as 8 or 9 years old.
As an adult, Léandre lost hope that he would ever fulfill his dreams of a life lived in adventure.
As I got older, I started to feel like traveling the world was impossible, and like the people who did travel the world were inaccessible gods. Although I remained obsessed with travel, I started living a life that to me, felt flat and normal. There were exciting moments, as I did build a mulit-national company – but I was building things to accumulate wealth. I was acting not for my own happiness, but to fulfill the material needs of my girlfriend at the time.
As I got deeper into this life, I started turning off the TV when I would see documentaries with beautiful landscapes. I closed all the magazines. I started pushing these images away out of sadness. With the choices I was making, I was never going to live this life I had always dreamed.
Then, my dad got sick, and over the course of his illness we lost everything we had built. I came to realize that I didn’t want all of the things I had built anyway. I didn’t want to lose my soul chasing something futile that wasn’t even something I wanted deep down. I broke up with my girlfriend, I dissolved my company, and I slowly started to get rid of all my stuff. With less, there was less to lose.
As an adult, Léandre lost hope that he would ever fulfill his dreams of a life lived in adventure, and he began to push them away.
Then one day, my brother-in-law, Marco, and I were running and I was daydreaming about traveling and learning English, and Marco said to me, “Man. Just go to Australia, get a visa, and maybe you’ll learn English.” I had already been thinking about New Zealand, but then I started thinking maybe I could go to Asia first, and maybe the middle east before that. I started planning a three month trip, and bought a one-way ticket.
In the middle of all this planning, my dad passed away. While I had originally planned to leave and come back shortly after in order to fulfill my duties to my family during my dad’s illness, I realized that I was free. My lifelong dreams of traveling the world were still inside me, and there were all these little signs from the universe that felt like a hand on my shoulder pushing me and saying, “Go man. What you’ve lived is very hard, and now you can go. You’re brave enough.”
The circumstances of his life would set him free, and Léandre would finally answer the call to adventure.
Three months turned into 10 months in Asia, which would turn into five years of travel through the Middle East, India, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and South and Central America. Even before I became a traveler, I was someone who liked to help others, and so as I traveled I always wanted to help people. I worked with a project that gave wheelchairs to handicapped people in Thailand, built a school using eco-construction techniques in Nepal, was the head of construction at a permaculture farm in Chilean Patagonia, and worked on an earth-ship project in Argentinean Patagonia.
I also had crazy experiences like being held by the police in Cuba, almost dying of hypothermia in a freak storm in New Zealand, being caught in a bomb scare on a plane with my mom, falling into an 8 meter crevasse in a glacier at the top of a volcano, and almost running out of food on a crossing of the Atlantic ocean in a sailboat.
Léandre became the adventurer he had always dreamed of becoming, but without Limitless, his story is not yet complete.
As I shared my stories, so many people told me, “Write a book about what you’re living.” While all of these things I’ve lived are incredible, I’ve always been like, “I don’t want to sit down and write this book because the story isn’t done.” Although I’m happy that I helped people while I traveled, I want to have a bigger impact than just actions I’ve taken locally with the people I’ve helped. It’s how I started dreaming about the project that would come to be called Limitless.
I dreamed of Limitless because I believe that travel like this is accessible to anyone, and that healing our earth is also accessible to everyone. While crossing the Atlantic, I started to dream about having a travel project with more framing where I could use modern media to build a community following their dreams and doing something good for our earth. I wanted to make my story accessible to everyone and help people learn that the spark for action is their own motivation.
When Becca and I started to work together on the project, it’s where I really saw the image of the project take shape. I realized that instead of following the rubrics of other projects or adventures, we could create something at our level, using our rules, and be free while we did it.
Léandre’s first step for Limitless was asking around if to see if anyone nearby needed help.
The very first thing I did to take action for Limitless was to look around the place where I was living while building the project to see if anyone needed help. I reached out to an organization called Partons du Bon Pied, and Becca and I ended up helping them with several river cleanups of the Herault River.
In reaching out to help Partons du Bon Pied, Cedric (the association president) asked us to put together a poster board presentation of our project. What we put together for that prepared us to start to figure out where we were going and what we were doing. In helping him, we ended up helping ourselves out too!
One of Léandre’s biggest struggles when it comes to Limitless is pushing away his need for recognition.
When I look at my journey, one of my biggest struggles is that I’m fighting against my ego a lot. This is my biggest struggle. I’ve come to see how I’m completely infected by a system that would have me believe that I need to become someone, and that I need to be recognized for what I do.
My need for recognition makes it so that deep down, I want people to say things like, “Ah, here’s this crazy French guy who traveled for 15 years around the world, and he’s my reference for freedom. He changed his life from a normal life to a crazy adventure. He’s super strong and super handsome.” There’s this little devil inside me that wants this recognition so that I can feel more powerful than other people. I want to show people that I’m better, faster, stronger, and going further than they are. I want them to be jealous.
The thing is, when I push this need for recognition away, I become more efficient for myself and for my earth. I’m not in this constant competition to be bigger or better than the other adventurers I follow. I don’t burn out my health, I don’t push other adventurers down with my accomplishments, and I don’t dream of bigger and bigger expeditions with bigger and bigger impact on the earth so I can have recognition for what I’ve done. Without all this competition, I’m happier because I can just focus on what I’m doing and how I can help others.
Léandre’s journey through Limitless opened him to the toxicity of his childhood benchmarks for masculinity.
Something else I used to struggle with a lot more is the definitions of masculinity that were ruling my life. Growing up, I was infused with the idea that to be a man you have to be strong, you can’t have feelings, you can’t be weak, you can’t say no, you can’t like flowers, and you can’t like little birds. If you were to say that you did yoga or ate a vegetarian diet, or empowered women, the world I grew up in would say that you are weak and you are not really a man. I grew up in a place where you had to take up room as a man, or you would get smashed down.
Because of my journey through Limitless, I’m really starting to see all this, and I’m changing. I can talk about my feelings out loud, I like to do yoga, I enjoy eating a vegetarian diet, I like flowers, I love little birds, I love the soft noises of nature, and I like making women feel strong and powerful and beautiful. For me, being a man is no longer about how fast I can go. It’s not about crossing the world in two years because I pedal hundreds of KMs and climb thousands of meters per day. I feel more myself and more free, and if someone tries to smash me down now it doesn’t matter because I’m not fighting them anymore. It’s like I just pass right under their shoe.
In my journey to define my masculinity for myself, and resist recognition, I’m also becoming more humble and letting go of my ideas about hierarchy. Growing up, when a person was older and more experienced, the younger person had to listen to them because they were older and stronger and taller and had authority. I’m coming to realize that, just like definitions of masculinity, this age hierarchy means nothing.
Because I’m not focused on the need to be right or stronger than someone else, it means that I can give space to someone younger than me without feeling weaker – or I can be physically weaker or have less knowledge and that’s ok too. Not only does this give space for the younger person to express themselves and learn how to lead, but it moves us toward a world where we operate in flat hierarchies. And I believe that this is the future.
Léandre struggles with in-the-moment emotional reactions.
With all this growth, I still struggle, because I’m not always in control of my in-the-moment emotions. When I disagree with people, I sometimes boil with anger, burn fuses, get set off, yell to get my way, and then have the devil on my shoulder say, “Yeah! You won!”
Before, I never would’ve admitted when I was wrong after an argument, even if I was. Now, once I’ve calmed down I have the ability to accept when I’m wrong, and I will often go back to the person, admit it, and apologize. Even if I’m not wrong, I will apologize for the way I said things if they were violent. I’ve found that this skill creates more love and unity and peace. It makes my soul lighter, makes my relationship with others lighter, and focuses my attention on the pleasure of life. It’s a lifelong journey for me though.
Léandre struggles to decentralize money’s power over his attention.
One final struggle that I’m working with is my relationship to money. Before Limitless, a lot of my attention was focused on money. I was always hyper-careful about spending, obsessed with cultivating financial freedom, and spent a lot of time in regret over spending. I can’t even count the number of times I would ruminate over money saying things to myself like, “I’m so stupid for spending this money.” Money, for me, was an addiction.
A lot of this came from the fear that I couldn’t keep traveling, but I’m learning how to take money out of the center of my attention. I do this accepting that not having money may mean I have to stay in one place, and not move around the world. But I also feel like if I stay positive and share my love and knowledge and caring with others, then there is always a way to cultivate what I want from this life.
So my new philosophy is not to pay attention to money. Not in the sense that I’m going to burn it on parties and a Ferrari, it’s just that money is not centrally important. While this is still a work in progress for me, I’m learning to be more and more of a minimalist with money and more and more of a maximalist with love. Because having love around me is enough.
Léandre’s journey through Limitless has made him more himself, more human, more connected to people, more connected to nature, and more free.
As of right now, committing to Limitless makes me feel more connected to people because I’m more connected to my true self. By hiding the parts of myself I thought of as fragile, I was actually making myself more fragile by holding all my feelings inside. By confronting my weaknesses, I feel stronger, happy, light, and myself. I’m no longer the person that others want, I’m this weird guy that I’ve always wanted to be.
Using gift economy as a central value for Limitless feels like the right decision too. I’ve come to find that when you accept people’s gifts without expectation, and give what you genuinely can, it opens up a wider range of possibilities for what you can do together. I am more myself in this kind of exchange, and feel more fully human. It’s like I can take off my professional mask, get closer with the people I’m working with, and create a much deeper link than I ever could if I was doing this work for money.
Traveling without fossil fuels is the best way I personally can create a relationship with nature. When I’m on a bike or on foot I have the time to think and see everything. I feel the wind, the rain, the cold, and the heat. It makes me feel so small and so humble. I’m shown the limits of my body, and also shown the connection to my roots and where I come from. When adventure traveling, I am connected to my animal self, and the center of an animal’s existence is survival. They eat, shit, sleep, and reproduce. When I travel, this is all I can do too.
The center of my life’s project is to be free, and with Limitless there is no ultimate goal or finality. Limitless has opened the gate for me to accept change and adapt to difference. I love the challenge of being a chameleon, learning new ways to be, and exploring an endless universe that is always in movement.
Whatever it is I learn, whatever happens, I live.