We just kicked off the return of our weekly “Adventure Run.” It used to be called Monday Mayhem and happened at night. One winter, on a record-cold day, and one of the coldest days we’ve had in the last 50 years, many running stores around the United States closed their doors. They posted announcements discouraging people from going outside for anything and especially, a run. Instead, we posted our Monday Mayhem time and place and had 9 people show up and snowshoe across a frozen lake in George Wyth State Park in the coldest temps they’ll ever run in. Ever!
Since adding another group run on a week night as well as having our children and not wanting to be out so much at night, our Monday Mayhem went quiet. We started, “Tenacious Tuesday,” in hopes of filling the void that was created when we took away a group run that wasn’t normal.
So this past Tuesday at 5 a.m. 20 people showed up. We ran two miles of dirt trail in the dark w/ headlamps before coming to the end of the trail. There we put our outer garments in a water-proof bag, inside a canoe and then we put on life-vests and plunged into the 50 degree lake water! It was 30 degrees windchill. I was up until 11:30 the night before with my nephew Scott paddling the canoe across the lake and into position, then marking the trail run w/ flags, then setting up camp. We slept outside under the stars as the winds blew 30 mph and the temps sank. Then we rose at 4:15 a.m. to get ready for the fun.
I was nervous. Don’t get me wrong, I love being the one to try to stretch people. I love stretching myself. But doing so at such an extreme level made me uneasy. Never do I want anything bad to happen to others. But I believe that sometimes the risk is worth it. Sometimes, I think it’s needed. But I wasn’t even sure that anyone would dare join me. The alternative was a simple turn-around and two more miles of trail back to the cars.
Our society is comfortable. I grew up in a home that was heated with a wood stove and had no air conditioning. In winter, you chopped, loaded, and stacked fire wood. In summer you wet your hair down before bed, slept on top of the sheets and used a box fan to cool off long enough to fall asleep. We all say things like, “it’s good for them,” while raising our kids but when I look at how my children are growing up, they still have much more comfort than I did. And I’m not sure I’m happy with myself because of this.
In such a period, people don’t have the willpower to sort through the barrage of options, and they default to the kinds of things that please their biological cravings (food, sex), or the kinds of pursuits that have been desired by humanity for thousands of years (wealth, fame, power).
And so it seems that if we were to really answer with honesty, our comfort has dulled our desire to push, to strive. And that’s possibly the biggest reason why so many struggle with trying to create a healthy life style. With trying to help those around them be healthy and truly happy. If those of us who know the fight had a nickel for every time someone has said to us, “Oh, I wish I had your energy.” We’ve forgotten what struggle truly is or how much struggle we can handle. Which, by the way, is way more than many of us think it is.
“[W]e go to far less trouble about making ourselves happy than about appearing to be so.”
We associate security and comfort with happiness.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -Hellen Keller
And so on Tuesday at approximately 5:22 a.m. on the shores of a lake in Iowa, those who had arrived in the dry, heated comfort of their cars, left comfort behind and jumped into the cold, dark waters. And for the hours of days since then, I’ve felt more awake and motivated than prior to daring to adventure. And I hope that next Tuesday arrives with another parking lot full of individuals ready to leave the comfort of their warm cars for a chance to stretch themselves, to find greater will power, and to become more of who they desire to be.