That moment when a trail starts feeling more like a path to a new world.
May has been one of the most incredible months of my life. I gave a TEDx talk then set off on an intense road trip to shoot Go Seek. There were many ups and downs but it's not an adventure until things start going wrong, you ditch the plan and go with the flow of wherever life wants to take you.
Here is an excerpt from the video which will be out in a couple weeks »
Chase the version of me I want to be, stay on track by following the fear that holds me back.
Climbing up a setback, deep inside of what I lack, I’m stalling, running as fast as I can but feel like I’m crawling.
I tell myself take a break, relax, let what you lack be an empty crack, you don’t have to be whole to be intact.
But I’m not very good at lying to myself, I know I need to catch that uncatchable self.
I know that trying to be more than I am is who I am, I know that I’m in love with the never ending search.
It’s my drive, my passion, my thirst.
And it’s not because I’m never satisfied, it’s because I’m always satisfied.
Untied, fully amplified, learning how to glide in this bumpy ride.
This is my life commute.
It’s not the pursuit of happiness it’s the happiness of pursuit.
Once in a while I'll get an email that seems to communicate something incommunicable. Thanks Pierce Hunsaker for letting me share it!
For the past two years I have had no address, and the only four walls I owned were made of nylon. People called me a homeless man. They equate a home with a house, with microwave ovens and plumbing and television. But I never felt more at home than I did when I ended the eight years I spent in the city, living paycheck to paycheck, building a little security. Always desperate and not even knowing it. It took all those years of treading water to realize it and just one tiny step outside to break it. There was so much fear, paralyzing amounts of it, leading up to that first step. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done but only in looking from the other side of it can I see now how simple it really was.
I took my rent deposit, sold my things and fell off the map. I was terrified and alone and colder and wetter than I'd planned, but still happier than I'd ever been.
Real home is the world and the only way to own the world is to be truly and fully in it. I climbed thousands of pitches of trad, bathed in mountain creeks, built bonfires and highlines and found the most fantastical, radiant friendships; as if discovering human beings for the first time.
Then everything changed.
I fell rock climbing and decked from 40 feet, shattering my spine. That day I happened to be wearing a Live Unbound shirt, one of three shirts I had to my name. I remember the irony of it clearly as EMTs cut it to shreds off my body. Sometimes the things that bind us don't just come from the inside. Sometimes it seems like the world reaches out and tries to steal what little freedom we manage to carve for ourselves.
There is a Mexican proverb I read over and over again – "Quisieron enterrarnos, pero se les olvidó que somos semillas." – They tried to bury us but they forgot we were seeds.
I spent the following week in and out of consciousness, in and out of surgery, unable to eat or drink or even sit up. I am very lucky. By the thickness of a dime I wasn't paralyzed and doctors say I'll walk again. I have lived the majority of the months since flat on my back and all of it indoors. But despite the ceiling I've stared at every day and the bed and food and television, I have never felt more homeless.
I am going to find a way back home.
On May 1st we'll be taking a road trip to shoot "Go Seek" which is all about seeking experiences that challenge us, inspire us and remind us why life is so incredible. Email me if you have ideas on epic locations which are off the beaten path!
Also on April 19th I'll be speaking at TEDxUIUC about the Live Unbound journey. Never spoke in front of a large crowd before but it's a pretty good first to have.
Last but not least if you're an adventure photographer and want to connect with fellow creators and share your images then join our LU photographers group.
While shooting our next short Doc on skydiver Dan BC we met Brad Patterson who told us about his idea to re-create Paul Bonds 1980 human sphere painting (the poster in the beginning of the video). Brad came up with an execution plan and assembled an incredible team that nailed it on the 2nd attempt. Welcome to the world of 3D Formations! The options are limitless and the team will be experimenting with new techniques at Skydive Perris.
EPIC MOMENT #16
I’m going to quote Neil Pasricha on this one, the guy who inspired the epic moments list.
“You used to be a sperm. Check out the period at the end of this sentence. That tiny little dot is around 600 microns wide. When you were a sperm you were about 40 microns wide. You had a great life as a sperm but always felt incomplete. The truth is you weren’t whole until you met an egg. And then you two began a nine month project to make a cool new version of you. It took a while but you grew arms and legs and eyeballs and lungs.
For a sperm to meet an egg it means your mom met your dad. But it’s not just them. Think about how many people had to meet, fall in love, and make love for you to be here. Here’s the answer: A lot. Like a lot a lot.
Before they had you, none of your ancestors drowned in a pond, got strangled by a python, or skied into a tree. None of your ancestors choked on a peach pit, were trampled by buffalo, or got their tie stuck in an assembly line. None of your ancestors was a virgin.
You are the most modern, brightest spark of years and years and years of survivors who all had to meet each other in order to eventually make you.
You’re pretty lucky all those people met, fell in love, made love, had babies, and raised them into other people who did it all over again. This happened over and over and over again for you to be here. Look around the plane, coffee shop, or park right now. Look at your husband snoring in bed, your girlfriend watching TV, or your sister playing in the backyard. You are surrounded by lucky people. They are all the result of long lines of survivors.
So you’re a survivor, too. You’re the latest and greatest. You’re the top of the line. You’re the very best nature has to offer.
But there’s more...
Of the millions of places we’ve ever seen in the universe it appears as though Earth is the only place that can support life. The only place! On this planet Earth, the only one in the giant dark blackness where anything can live, we ended up being humans.
We are the only species on the only life-giving rock capable of love and magic, architecture and agriculture, bicycles and democracy, airplanes and highway lanes. We got surf boards, buffets and roller coaster rides, guitar solos, bubble wrap and blockbuster movies.
We got all that. But we only get a hundred years to enjoy it. Every single person you know will be dead in a hundred years. Life is so great that we only get a tiny moment to enjoy everything we see. And that moment is right now.”
2014 was a reminder that a worthy pursuit is less about accomplishing the goal and more about the incredible life you’re given when you strive to accomplish it. I tend to set my goals much higher than I can reach and see what happens when I try. The hard part is to not be disappointed when you fall short and remember that you’re much higher than where you began.
At the end of the day we’re having a blast here at LU, dreaming up new ways to inspire and bring this incredible community together. We will most definitely live 2015 unbound because adventure is where we thrive. As a result every year, every day & every second is full of possibilities.
The sheer cliff wall or snowy, wind-blasted peak of an icy mountain is a rough place to create large-scale photographic works of art, but that’s exactly what Swiss photographer Robert Bösch does. His photos can involve hundreds of mountain climbers braving difficult conditions to get the perfect shot.
EPIC MOMENT #15
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.
Epic Moment #12
An important part of being an adult is holding onto your inner child. There was a time when your mind had no limits. Your thoughts were wild and your ideas were always within reach. That childish optimism gets damaged by life’s failures, injuries, disappointments and defeats. But deep down inside it’s still there, waiting for you to stop being so damn realistic all the time.