Shapeless Future

Wrote this during the last 4 months of traveling »  

We create the path where our minds wander.

Where they go, our actions follow. What our actions create, or don’t create, is what our lives become. So I try to take the time to explore my landscape. To walk inside the boundaries that I built for myself.

I pass hill after hill of easily accomplished goals, built on shiny rewards that never seem to satisfy. I pass should haves holding hands with the perfect excuse for why they must remain in this land of missed opportunities. I follow them towards a landfill of ideas that were never executed and watch as they fall in like lemmings.

Staring at what might have worked turn into you’ll never know, I get a new type of worry – am I just moseying through my story without ever reaching the climax? The unfolding plot of my life is feeling a bit boring. Maybe I should stop reading this book and start a more interesting one.

I feel like my brain has no reception here. It can't receive the messages my heart is trying to send to it. I need to find a place with a better signal.

This thought sparks a flame casting just enough light to reveal a new trail. One that ends at the massive walls that surround this entire landscape.

The first step feels like a relief.

I don’t hate this place, it just got old. Like the repeat button got stuck on a song I used to like. I hear it all day everyday and now I’m just numb to it. I think of it as the familiar melody that protects me from the countless horrible songs that could play next if I hit shuffle.

As I get closer to the edge, I hear the echos of a new tune in the distance. I feel my curiosity taking over and a frenzied desire to go to the other side of the wall. To reach for something that I’m not sure I can grasp. To live where I’m breakable. Where I have less control, less comfort, less support but more passion, more surprise and more possibility.

Standing face to face with the wall I can see it’s made out of doubts, fears and insecurities. Held together by a need to preserve this psychological dome that protects me from having to feel these emotions.

This need is fading. And the more vulnerable I am, the weaker the wall becomes.

I lean down to read a tiny sticker on the edge of the wall – “Break in case of emergency”. A nice little reminder that I created these boundaries and therefor I have the ability to destroy them.

As this awareness sinks in, the walls begin to crumble. I can see lifes endless possibilities emerging on the other side. I know that it’s time to leave the hills behind and head for the mountains. It’s time to go beyond my will.

As I step over what was once an impenetrable wall, the pain in my stomach turns into a tingle. My entire being is awakened. I feel like I’m in the heart of a wild but surprisingly pleasant storm. Like unexpected torrential downpour on an unbearably hot day.

Looking at the mountains in the distance, I feel like I’m staring deep into someone’s eyes. It feels intimate and intense. Like behind the horizon there is something living and that something is staring back at me.

I can sense there is risk ahead. I wonder why am I here? Why not relax in the comfortable life that I built? I guess it’s because I know that what lies ahead holds the answers to much more important questions. Questions like, “what do I want to become?” and “am I capable of becoming that?”

My only plan is to avoid the urge to make a plan. I threw away my to-do list. I loosened my grip on life. I'm letting go of what I don’t believe in and grabbed a hold of what feels right. What makes my heart race and my eyes light up. I no longer feel guilty when I do nothing. And the tired notion that I’m falling short of something has finally left the forefront of my thinking.

My future is now shapeless.

Life is beginning to feel like a long boat ride in the middle of the ocean with no compass. Unanchored, always in movement, always in transition, completely detached from the invulnerability of a shore.

As answers slowly break into the locked portals in my mind, I feel certain about one thing – the quintessential future I’ve always been after would have never been as radiant and exciting as my current life.

Photos » @whereisyali

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Blown away by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows written by John Koenig. Can't remember the last time I've been this inspired! 


n. The desire to care less about things. To hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.


n. The disappointment of being unable to fly, unable to stretch out your arms and vault into the air igniting the fuel tank of unfulfilled desires you’ve been storing up since you were born.


n. The kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.

Photo by Josh Terada

Photo by Josh Terada

#15 Breaking a self-imposed limitation



I have run into many versions of limitation in my life but they were usually self-imposed.  This is a result of allowing irrational fears and doubt to overthrow my confidence and belief.  I began to change after the first time I heard a well known analogy:  

To keep an elephant in place, handlers use small ropes tied to the ground with tiny sticks.  The elephant can easily break away from the rope but it does not.  That's because when the elephant was younger and smaller the same size rope was used to tie them and, at that age it’s enough to hold them.  They try to escape for a while and eventually give up.  When they are older and stronger they still obey the limitation, even though it no longer exists.

These days instead of accepting that I’m tied down; I’m never afraid to tug on the rope a little.  I often find that my limitations are not real, just a baby-elephant-like conditioning.  

View full list of epic moments »

Photo by Keith Ladzinski

Cherished Roadblocks

Sometimes our problems become cherished roadblocks, convenient excuses why we can’t move forward or take a leap of faith.  

Yes, doing it is risky and avoiding it might preserve a perfect, failure-free life.  But perfection will never be as respected as a determined attempt at doing something remarkable.  

If you don't take the risk, you'll risk everything else in return.

Painting by Rafal Olbinski.


Here is part 1 of the latest LiveUnbound video staring Jeb Corliss.  A year ago I saw videos of Jeb and thought to myself, damn I need to meet this guy!  I never tried reaching out to him, I just got a call one day saying "hey can you interview Jeb Corliss?" It’s funny how amazing things happen when you’re following your passion.

Thanks to Ten Tree and the inspire campaign for hooking this up.  

Drive Without A Map

We live in a culture where we are constantly reminded about the risks of being bold and exploring new ground.  We’re so consumed with the dangers of shining brightly that we’ve become content with the darkness.

The alternative is to take a leap into the unknown, to drive without a map, to live unbound.  Inspired by this newfound freedom, you’ll fly far higher than you’ve been taught is possible.

No there isn’t a safety net to catch you if you fall but that’s what makes your accomplishments, your talent, your work, your life so extraordinary.  

This post was inspired by “The Icarus Deception” a new book by Seth Godin.

Photograph by © Frode Sandbech

The Most Important Question

Everyone has a dream.  Most people even know how to achieve it (or at least where to start). But yet they don’t.  Why?  Because we have to balance our hopes and dreams with feeding ourselves, paying debts, or finding work.  But having the security of that next paycheck is not worth a life of restricted potential.

Imagine your goals and dreams as a distant mountain. When life gets very difficult and confusing, stop and ask yourself: am I on the path towards or away from the mountain?  As long as you keep walking towards the mountain, you'll be alright.

Inspired by Neil Gaiman.

Photo by © Jussi Grznar


Once a caterpillar becomes a butterfly it doesn’t stay in its cocoon, it flies.  If you’re trapped inside the comfort of the walls which inhibit your growth, remind yourself that you’re wasting a good set of wings.

Photo by © Thomas Ulrich // Athlete: Mike Robinson, Dave Major // Location: Pilz, Eiger, Switzerland


One where chances of failure are high. Only when you’re face to face with defeat, an unfamiliar side of yourself takes over and overcomes. This psychological strength is unknown to the play-it-safers. Not because they don’t have it inside them, because it’s not attracted to small endeavors. It needs bold, courageous effort to flourish. 

Ethan Morgan // Silvretta Montafon // Austria

Why is it that what people can accomplish is often greater than what they believe they can.  Our limitations are an illusion created by us and they will be broken by us.

When you're optimistic you no longer need a sense of control. You know that life will flow as it will, taking you where you need to be. 

Scene from "Where the trail ends".

Life is a river; always moving forward, barreling straight through the impossible. Some of us are disconnected from the flow of the river. This disconnect kills joy, interaction and purpose. Life's greatest adventure, all it's beauty, sails by unnoticed. But the river is never that far off. There is always a way back into the rush of moving forward.

Life Cycles OFFICIAL Trailer from Life Cycles on Vimeo.

We spend so much time thinking, worrying, questioning. Spend a few seconds lost in a moment. No time to think, just reaction and focus. All the worry and the want washed away by the rush. That's living (pharaphrased from Life Cycles).


Feel like you're drowning?  I hope I see the day when the word “work” is associated with gratification and satisfaction instead of distress and monotony. Hopefully someday “work hard” will no longer be perceived as putting time and energy into an undesirable act for a desired result. In order for that to happen, we need to change the desired result from money to waking up feeling excited about the “work” we are about to do. The funny thing is that once you do that the money will follow. 

© Tim McKenna // Athlete: Teiva Joyeux // Location: Teahupoo, French Polynesia

You'll have a whole eternity to think inside the box.


Do you feel like you already know what today is going to be like? Routines and comfort zones threaten our growth. If a relationship's not growing, if your skills aren't growing, if you're not growing, it doesn't matter how much money you have, how many people love you, you're not happy. If you feel like your days are mundane and predictable then pretty soon your weeks will be the same. Then months, years and even your whole life. Make it a habit to surprise yourself with spontaneous adventures.

More important than skills or knowledge is your emotion and psychological strength. This invisible force shapes your destiny. Your ability will get you up in the air; your state of mind will land you safely.

Photo by Ricky Adam


We all want to be able to make a living doing work that we love. Work that allows us to express ourselves, create impact, help others, travel the world or whatever it is that you desire. We often settle for less because of life's challenges and responsibilities. Yesterday I posted a poll on the LiveUnbound facebook page asking: What is the biggest obstacle you face when working towards turning your dreams into reality?  Money obligations won by a landslide with 86 votes.  It's ironic because financial success usually happens when people are passionate about what they're doing.  It's easy to fall into the trap of playing it "safe".  As for the runner up, fear is usually not connected to any true danger or threat.  People are afraid of something that might happen, not something that is happening.  Kind of reminds me of this picture.  

Photo by © Above Photography


I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and for passion.  Solid ocean swells powering through deep cold water, ignite the imagination, whisper possibilities, you always learn something.  We all take knocks in the process, cold creeping into your core, driving you mad while you hold position and wait for the next wave to come.  For fires of happiness and waves of gratitude.  I feel genuinely lucky and hand on heart say I love doing what I do.  And I may never be a rich man but I'll have a tale or two for the nephews.  And I dig the thought of that.

-Mickey Smith (paraphrased)