My Reflections in Nature; The Final Quarter

9-Month Quest Update

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At 9:30 last Saturday night I was running up a road back to my girlfriend’s white Nissan Rogue after completing a stunning backpacking trip through the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the Cascades (full trip report and vlog coming very soon).  Three of us took on a 44 mile trek and I was pretty damn exhausted while finishing the last three miles, trail running up a mountain towards our transportation.  All of this in celebration of the Fourth of July, or more just an excuse for a backpacking trip, which also happened to coincide with my nine months of living alcohol free.

One reflection I had while walking through these stupidly beautiful and varying landscapes, was how similar life is to the adventure we were on.  Challenges in the outdoors can be very complex and require quick thinking, just as in real life.  They can take you off track due to faulty route finding which in turn costs you time on the trail pushing goals and camps further from reach.  They’re physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding.  You’re always being faced with new challenges, both minor and major, some grueling, some require digging deep into your fear and conquering it, but they’re always overturning and linking from one to the next followed by breaks of insane beauty before reemerging you in chaos.  You learn from each of these experiences and move on with the knowledge of how to handle a similar situation later.  Shifty rocks, unstable snow, darkness setting with no camp in sight and mosquitos biting the shit out of any exposed skin, legs cramping, dehydration, exhausting heat, numbing cold.. the list goes on.  No matter what happens during the trek, it must be finished at some point, in some way.  The option to bow out and just not finish what you have started does not really exist after a certain point, unless not being alive is an acceptable outcome to you.  Which means, when unfortunate circumstances arise, you have two options: be mentally miserable, bitch and complain, or you can find a way around the obstacles that present themselves and make the best out of your misfortune.  Since we are just a bunch of organisms attempting to ping our neuro receptors with jolts of dopamine, adjusting your mindset to do the latter is possible.

The past nine months have been the most transformative, life altering months of my life.  They’ve been productive in ways that will benefit me for years, perhaps decades, to come.  Yet there is still an internal turbulence brewing that works against what I am trying to accomplish.  I have had to learn to silence that turbulence, and also, energize it when necessary.  To get to a place where that is possible, I need to completely calm my ever-pulsing brainwaves.  Meditation has done me wonders.  Intense exercise also helps clear the thought tinnitus riddled with politics, work tasks, relationship issues, and other trivial, lizard brained bullshit.  But the activity that proves the most effective is, without a doubt, spending multiple days outdoors with a set goal to obtain.  Removing myself from the stresses of modern life and replacing them with survival and nature allows a deeper cleansing than you’ll find at any Gold’s Gym and earns me a fresh perspective.

The days spent away this last week were more like a firmware update than a vacation.  I regained my purpose for this quest.  Remembered what it is that I am working for.  Realized the progress I have made so far.  Saw where I can make improvements.  Got calibrated.  A lot has changed in nine months, more positive change than at any point in my life, and I still have three more to go to finish off this year long assignment.  In reality, it never stops, until it does, and I want to make it the best it can be all the way up and to the ending.

“You want to know what anger is?  Well, just observe the sensations that arise and pass in your body while you are angry… … … Whenever I was angry, I focused on the object of my anger — something somebody else did or said — rather than on the physical reality of the anger.

… The most important thing I realized was that the deep source of my suffering is in the patterns of my own mind.  When I want something and it doesn’t happen, my mind reacts by generating suffering.  Suffering is not an objective condition in the outside world. It is a mental reacting generated by my own mind.” Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, excerpt from Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferris

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

No Man Wants to Go to a Baby Shower; This Too Shall Pass

Ladies, I know you got together and decided that baby showers are now for both you and your boyfriends/husbands to attend. I’m glad that you want to include us and all but you’re god damned wrong in doing so. While at a baby shower, even if it were for the birth of my best friend’s baby, and definitely if it’s for the birth of your best friend’s baby, shit, even if it were my own baby, we hate every second of it. It’s not cute, it’s not just a couple hours, it’s a full afternoon at a stupid baby shower. I bring this up because I recently attended a baby shower and was sold on it by my girlfriend telling me it was coed… I shouldn’t say sold… I very reluctantly went along with it because I’d rather not argue.  Also, even though you call it coed, it was only kind of coed… as in there were some unhappy boyfriends being drug along to talk about girl shit and babies. The dudes with babies looked much more content being at the shower, as if that’s what they did now that they popped a crib gremlin out.  Makes me not want kids.  Nothing against the friends or the baby, or, for that matter, babies in general, but it’s a fucking baby shower. Just stop already with the showers. A party? I can probably deal with a party, but unless it’s cleansing in nature, keep the damn showers away.

Let’s see… well, beyond still having the propensity to rant and to unwaveringly hate societal norms, I have been training hard as hell lately. I can say that I have acquired something I haven’t had in years… ABS!  Fuck yeah, I have abs!  Months in the gym is paying off and going on month two of my break from alcohol, I feel better than I’ve felt in years, minus a nagging kink in my neck (literally, I have a kink in my neck).  I can’t wait to see where my fitness goes in the coming year.

I have been working diligently on my mediation, finishing a 21 day exercise in my Calm app and moving on to a new one to help with focus. I’m still doing my meditation in the sauna and it is becoming my daily routine. The last two days I have actually meditated in the steam room which was a little more uncomfortable in comparison to the dry sauna, but I’ll adjust and might try it a couple times per week to add an extra layer of difficulty.  It was a little too hot to concentrate yesterday though and I stopped a minute or two shy of where I had intended.  I could be mentally stronger I suppose, and I could also puke all over the steam room, I chose to just get out and cool down.

After writing about my lack of focus with meditation a few posts back, I came across the below parable.

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!

“It will pass,” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

This is literally what I was whining about and as soon as I heard this story I laughed at myself. The reason I like this parable, as silly and simple as it is, is because it can be applied to everything in life. Happiness nor sorrow are perpetual feelings, you have good days and bad. The takeaway for me is to learn to be content with whatever outcome happens and with whatever is.  I struggle with this concept in more ways than one, for instance, I can’t wait to go skiing next, but after I ski next I know that I’m just going to want to ski more. All the adventures I’ve done make me crave more adventure. That’s great and all, but just like with meditation, it passes.  I can’t be stuck in a state of disappointment because I’m unable to be on top of a mountain everyday or I’m unable to meditate well every time I attempt to.  Truth be told, I haven’t been too focused during my meditation this week at all.  It will pass.  Everything passes.  I will even pass.  Every moment is fleeting, so find comfort in the moment that is now and let the moments pass in content.

Alright, I’m done being a monk for the time being. Future career path?

Cheers! 🤙,

~Dane