Browse the collection on this page for stories to inspire. As Bruce Lee told his students, "absorb what is useful, discard what is not."  

 photo by ran elfassy

photo by ran elfassy

We Need to Talk

A deeper look into income compression and why it goes one step beyond inflation analysis.

Like an immigrant in my hometown, I’ve gradually seen a bias hiding in plain sight. Until recently, I was blind to what I call the compression of income. At first, it sounds like this is another way of talking about inflation, but the point is there’s something subtle going on that no one’s talking about. The effect of this bias means people are suffering without understanding another cause of that pain. For this kind of thing, we’ll only make it fair by getting this problem out in the open and making it part of the conversation.   

Almost 15 years ago, my Delian and I relocated to live, work and find adventure in Hong Kong. Looking to move back to Canada, I’ve spent the past year trying to reboot our life back home. To be fair, Hong Kong feels like home but at this point Canada is more attractive. Now that I’m back on familiar ground and no longer a stranger in a strange land, the hidden impact of income compression has hit me like a slap in the face. It’s the norm so we accept it. Everyone carries on, not realizing how much the struggle we feel today is nothing like the struggle our parents felt. The pain people feel as we try to make ends meet is made harder year on year, leaving us struggling ever more to find the security many of us grew up with. The pain is worse, even while what’s hurting us is hiding in plain sight.

 Photo by ran elfassy

Photo by ran elfassy

Lesson Six

An account of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and how every moment is a gift. Story first published in Surfing's Greatest Misadventures.

It was Christmas Day. My wife, Delian, and I were learning how to surf. We’d just completed the fifth of our six introductory lessons at the Easy Beach surfing guesthouse in Ahangama, Sri Lanka. We ordered pre-dinner drinks and enjoyed the sunset from the porch. The waves crashed and lapped against the shore.

Two traveling surfers, Ollie and Matt, joined us. They ordered pints of Lion lager, and welcomed our surf-related questions. After a few tales of their wave exploits, Matt held up his glass and looked right at me.He warned, “Don’t forget that every surfer’s got a story. We all have a story about the wave that was almost too big, the rip that was almost too fierce, the call that was almost too close.” I laughed, and reminded him that mine was the story of a thirty-two-year-old man vacationing in Sri Lanka, a beginner. I wasn’t about to go chase big waves. the head-high peelers greeting us each day were all I wanted.

 Photo by delian gaskell.

Photo by delian gaskell.

High Time to Sea

Spotting cetaceans in the Azores. Article first published in Go World Travel.

“The vigia radioed this morning to say he saw some fins. We’ll head there first, make a little tour, and see if we can find ourselves some whales.” I look up from the nautical map and smile at Chris Beer, the red-bearded cheery captain of the Physeter. The vessel is a whale-watching and scientific two-hull catamaran, and for part of the year, Chris and his wife Lisa lead scientific expeditions into the Azorean waters.

The Azores, more than 1500 km off Portugal’s coast, are basalt tips rising thousands of meters off the mid-Atlantic ridge. This archipelago includes nine major islands and eight small islets. Smack in the middle of a Northbound Gulf Stream, the waters churn around the islands with incredible biodiversity.

Happy Accidents Shot Raw

I described my photographic project and Bruce hits the nail on the head. “That isn’t a photo series,” he says, “it’s is a performance.” We’re at La Pampa, an Argentinean restaurant on Staunton Street. Savoring a bite, he chuckles. “It’s vain and self-centered. But it’s bold. I like it.”

He’s right, 350 Rans isn’t a photo project as much as it’s a six-and-a-half-year performance. It began hours before dawn after I had too much coffee and couldn’t sleep. That was the start of my 350-week journey into happy accidents. I committed to something with no practical purpose, frivolous even, but it was the source and record of amazing, unexpected possibilities.