On the Way toward an Artist's Soul, Athlete's Body, and Entrepreneur's Mind.
"This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path -- the my-isn't-that-impressive path -- and keep you there for a long time. "
--Michelle Obama, Becoming.
I have a low pain tolerance. And I've worked really hard to get one.
Yes, you heard that right.
If you typically are an avoidance coper, this article is not for you unless you want to reminisce about growing up during the 90s.
Recently facebook did its stated job of "social connection" and helped me reconnect with my high school basketball coach. Coach P found me somehow and I was really surprised.
She had moved away from the gorgeous mountain hamlet of Garden Valley where she coached girls' middle and high school basketball to Buhl, Idaho. Buhl is best known today as the Trout Capital of America, with numerous hatcheries producing over 20 million pounds of rainbow trout that are shipped worldwide. Also, home to my Grandparents' dairy farm where one bull always got his own stall to prance and boast about before he was sent off to slaughter.
Garden Valley (including the only actual no-stoplight town, Crouch) is famous for having had the world champion female bull rider in rodeo back in the 90s.
In the 1990's, Garden Valley was the seat of many a dispute between the Kayakers (stinky hippies drawn in from around the world due to world-class whitewater river rapids on the Payette River) and the Cowboys (locals wearing designer, nut-hugging too-tight wranglers --horse riding optional).
It was our very own Montagues and Capulets, with so much drama.
Mainly the cowboys wanted to let their cows shit in the river and the Kayakers (and anyone related to the tourist industry in this welfare plagued logging area) hated getting cow dung in their mouth as they held on for dear life as they traversed treacherous class III and IV white water rapids.
The Kayakers wanted to freely disrobe from their wetsuits along the side of the only road in and out of the Valley. To get groceries (or do anything) you had to wind carefully along this road that wound in sync with the mighty, frothy and scenic South Fork of the Payette, and naked butt offended the Cowboys.
The guard rails along the treacherous road were junk because they impeded your view of the river as you were driving. Both the Cowboys & Kayakers agreed on that.
Perhaps it was more nuanced, and maybe it had something to do with water rights in this high desert. But most definitely this Kayaker-Cowboy Rumble was a win-win for teenage girls.
Boys and men strutted in very-tight wranglers to the post office or the "Merc" (Mercantile shop), and every long car ride to the grocery store was dotted with glimpses of 6 pack abs and rock hard bottoms of long haired kayakers or college boys leading rafting trips for tourists (a.k.a. FlatLanders: City Slickers from the Boise-Nampa metro, suburb smog-o-lopolis area).
Sadly the 90s are over and we're fully into 2020 (barf).
Perhaps the glory days of the men's-butts-rumble are over, but now Garden Valley is famous for FlatLanders (or perhaps worse, Californians on vacation!) pretending to be hillbillies and launching assault style fireworks at each other in front of the Middle Fork Trading Post in Crouch.
Hey FlatLanders! We MountainFolk remember being locked into our valley with only a helicopter as means of escape. We don't F*&K around with fire. Go somewhere green and lush with your wanna be white trash. Or play cornhole, it's much more fun than starting a wildfire.
This dude is a "smokejumper" and is seriously bad ass.
This firefighter literally suits up in 110 lbs of gear and regularly jumps into raging forest fires from an airplane. 3 out of the 9 smokejumper crews are based and train out of Idaho.
Remember that as you flick your cigarette out the window, let your RV tow safety chain drag on the road, or build your McMansion logcabin in the woods without a metal roof. Or you wantonly shoot fireworks all over the damn place in July!
Sorry for the rant. You can take the girl out of Idaho, but you can't take Smokey Bear out of the girl.
Even the New York Post is paying attention to tiny Crouch, Idaho.
Notice, nowhere did potatoes come up. It's the GEM STATE people.
The spine of the Rocky Mountains and the continental divide runs through Idaho.
Hemingways' mountain cabin overlooks the Wood River near the world famous alpine skiing destination of Sun Valley.
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area is home to wolverine (go wolverines!) habitat and is the single largest wild primitive space in the lower 48.
600 square miles of lava fields sit within the Craters of the Moon national park.
But no, whenever meeting any Americans over 15 years of living on 3 continents, it's "Oh, potatoes. I've never met anyone from Idaho before."
Back to Coach P.
She wore awesome wranglers and rocked a blonde spiral perm as she coached our basketball team that hadn't gone to the State Championships since 1979.
As fate would have it, our girls team made it to the State championships in 1997.
Call it destiny. We seniors were born in 1979 and triumphantly going to State in 1997!
To find other schools as small as Garden Valley we would ride, ride, and ride across half the state. We endured endless bus rides starting along the South Fork of the Payette with vomit inducing bus sickness that precluded me from even seeing any hot kayakers naked on the side of the road.
There were even mudslides that blocked the highway delaying games so that we had to huddle them all together and travel everyday for weeks on end once the road was clear.
And Coach P led us through all that adversity and we made it to state. Freshmen year we probably won 2 games the entire season. It was demoralizing, but she built us up over 4 years to be Champions of the Long Pin League.
Perhaps we won "Best Sportsmen(women)" once at State, but we made it there for the first time in 18 years!
It was rad. I poured my heart, soul, and sacrificed my "body" for our team. Basketball was my true sporting love. I pretty much fouled out every game, but also drew a lot of fouls too. Thank goodness I could make free throws because my short ass 5'6" got stuffed all the time from the key.
But between 1994-2020 I had always felt Coach P hated me, or at the very least disliked me.
My former identity was "endurance coper". Whenever confronted with challenge or stress, all I had to do was more of the same but just harder. Into the pain, always busy. My path was toward corporate success and I found it very adaptive to push harder into the Busy.
Busy with a capital B. The enemy.
Instead of reflecting and choosing a path, I ran. Outdoor, indoor, cross country, high school, club, and for good measure weekend fun runs. I was short and thickly built, and puked before almost every race. My loving mother had to drive me because I usually was without a team and endured solo.
I wasn't even sure where I was running, but I did get quite a lot of my-isn't-that-impressive remarks.
I successfully pursued many priorities (is that even possible?) with no overall plan. Just one busy action to the next. No path, no Way.
Way with a capital W. The hero.
Despite having no Way, it's all very adaptive in our culture to be endlessly striving, reaching, achieving. Advanced degrees, promotions, bonuses, marathons, exotic vacations, status. It seems to work?
Our high school English program wasn't very good at Garden Valley. I never learned grammar. Or what a verb conjugation is. Don't even get started with present participle, or whatever. Stop.
Sophomore year, the teacher was pretty much run over by the kids in class. Girls were dipping and spitting into coke cans at their desk, giggling about how it got caught in their braces. It was a shit show, but I learned so much.
My BFF and I were decent students, so the teacher asked us to take a load off his plate and teach the 15 year old Mexican immigrant how to speak English. Our new classroom was the football field, away from the trailer-classroom madness.
We dutifully went down to the super hot 3rd grade teacher at the adjoining elementary (yes, K-12 on the same campus) and asked him for phonics workbooks to try to teach English to a guy who had only been in America for a few months.
It was awesome! Lots of making out behind the bleachers teaching the "language of love", learning how to throw an over-the-head frisbee toss, and enjoying the abundant afternoon Idaho sunshine on the football field. Other kids would get kicked out for misbehavior and join us on the field during sunny 5th period. I levelled up my frisbee game seriously that year.
College english was a kick in the teeth. But I really wished I would have learned the definition of priority. But I certainly still have no interest in grammar.
According to google: Priority: a thing that is regarded as more important than others.
What genius came up with the plural of the "thing that is the most important"?
Even with my public Idaho education, even I know that can't be right.
Endurance copers rebel!
Despite everything in your gut signalling you, more is not better. It hurts even writing this as a recovering endurance coper.
Enduring pain is an identity. And adaptive for contemporary success. It gets you places.
It took Michelle Obama years to let go of her Ivy league education and lawyer-dom that she endured 4 hours of daily high school bus rides to achieve. None of us are immune to the evil grasp of Busy.
But what is the tradeoff? There's always a trade-off. That's pretty much the only thing I learned studying economics at the Naval Academy. That and how to fiddle with the spacing between lines to 1.25 in order to stretch out my work to make the paper long enough to turn in.
Tradeoff for Busy: Is it well-being? Relationships? Time meaningful work and play? Legacy?
What is your Priority? Resume or eulogy virtues?
Shedding the identity that got you so far is troubling. It will take a period of grief. Like a funeral. Maybe a ritual, something involving burning, will help. The eons of time humans sat around the campfire surely has some influence on our brain's subconscious. Burning is catharsis. Release. Surrender.
Ashes to ashes.
Once we do, we may see clearly enough to live up to our life's potential or Arete (Greek for excellence) and get onto our Way.
There's no Way toward Arete if you are tumbling along unheeding.
The enemy is Busy. The hero is The Way.
We can achieve anything, just not everything.
Not even Michelle can be a mom, lawyer, happy human, and first lady without tradeoffs. And we all know she is superhuman.
Maybe that's the vibe I misinterpreted 2 decades ago from Coach P. Great coaches have this gift from the Gods. It seems I was wrong and she did like me, but my constant distraction and juggling of "priorities" left her frustrated. Frequently, off-season cross country races in Oregon or New Orleans would prevent me from playing the first two weeks of December.
My touch would be off due to sneaking in a quick 3 miler on the suicide hill behind the school before basketball practice. Never fully in, my attention was split.
I certainly didn't live up to my potential because of my belief that everything is possible if you just try hard enough. Coaches want to inspire full potential. Arete.
Which is a total shame because I actually loved basketball and hated cross country/track. Even in college, the basketball girls were way cooler than the skinny cross country girls, and my secret desire was to be on that team vs getting yelled at for eating dessert on the track team.
Sometimes the "established" path isn't the best, and it's very hard to get off.
Here's a gift for my people, the recovering endurance copers.
Get off the established path and make your own Way.
A Way to lower your pain tolerance so you aren't so Busy and numb to what's really going on with your life. Start to get a glimpse that more is not better for Physical Arete.
Any Way should include planning, environmental setup, and reduce the amount of willpower needed to follow, or else it's simply something else that must be endured and you've fallen.
Science backs this approach, but there's always many different paths and finding your own implementation is key.
It's not necessary to kill yourself and endure more to access clarity, health & wealth. Try these free, simple chronic low grade suffering strategies as a Way toward an Artist's Soul, Athlete's Body, and Entrepreneur's Mind:
1. mild self-poisoning
2. stress yourself out every day
3. give up
4. plan and host events you might not really like
Nutrition: eat colorful plants daily. All that color is natural insecticide. It poisons you a tiny bit so you bounce back stronger.
Exercise: heating up your body with some moderate exercise or sitting in a hot, dry sauna for 20-40 minutes a day creates the production of heat shock proteins. You mustn't run a 10k or gruel through crossfit to get the benefits. The by-product of your blood vessels enlarging to dissipate heat not only create happy hormones for better mood, but the heat shock proteins encourage anti-inflammatory DNA pathways, endurance, and recovery. Minimum effective dose!
Sleep: 7-9 hours daily are a must for proper recovery and help with physical arete, mood, and learning. Sometimes you just have to give up and turn in, and if you can't stop thinking then do something about it like meditate, journal, and get your room turned into the perfect sleeping den.
Social Connection: Yes, it is annoying and a lot of work, but the common theme for living to a grand old age and not being stuck in the recliner is strong social connection. Creating IRL social connection via social sports like hosting a cornhole tournament really sucks. Consider it a pay-it-forward thing. Events are a platform for people you care about (and new friends) to connect with each other. It can be anything (dinner club, book club, hobby related, etc) but should be inclusive, active enough not to be boring, some food and drink, passionate, and fun. 2020 requires creativity and patience with this strategy, but social connection is the cornerstone of health, wealth, and happiness and some suffering is required.
Mindfulness: practice awareness. Mental pushups if you will. Really, just sit and pay attention to your breath for 2 minutes a day. The hardest strategy on the list.
All of this minor suffering pales in comparison to losing dignity when Busy has kept us distracted from our life's purpose.
Connect to Your Way --->
💖Crave the Planet
By Morgan Fielder from CornholeEuropa.com.
Author profile: Morgan Fielder is an evangelist for play and civilian physical therapist living near Ramstein AFB raising two gorgeous girls, wife of a rebel, serial expat, and is actively involved in the German community through several organizations. Visit her community project at cornholeuropa.com to learn more.
💖Crave the Planet