Pain. Why do we push ourselves to the point of agonizing pain and suffering just for the sake of finishing a hard climb? Or simply for the view from the top of a difficult hike? It’s a question I’ve heard time and again, from friends, coworkers, and strangers. I’ve seen it asked on the news and on the internet. Why would someone purposefully put themselves through such an intense, uncomfortable, and painful experience? Is it just for the challenge? For the adrenaline rush? Are we all just a bunch of adrenaline junkies? I don’t think the why can be so simplified or generalized. The reason is always personal and hard to quantify, it’s something everyone must decide for themselves.
You must find within yourself the willpower and rationale to go beyond the limits that have been put on you. Some of these limits have been put on us by others, people who should never have had a say or an influence on our self image. That includes the society in which we live, a world of ease, comfort, and entitlement. A world where feeling safe is more important than feeling alive and free. There is an unfulfilled need in us to go beyond, to explore, and to do battle. And there is no greater battle in the world today than the battle with ourselves. Hardwired for ease, but there is an empty place in us that is called to the unknown, to the wild. We seek to tame the inner beast of comfort, while searching out the wild around us.
Some seek to fight depression, others to prove something to themselves. Completing a challenging adventure gives us a sense of satisfaction that is rarely found in our world today. It fuels a feeling of accomplishment and gives us pride in ourselves, We no longer perceive ourselves as insecure, incompetent, or weak. Can we not now look back at an experience where we pushed our preconceived limits, where we found an inner strength that was unknown before. Even more people adventure simply for fun and that’s okay. In fact it’s great, if exploring brings you joy and you have an awesome time working out in the great outdoors, then why not do it?
But I believe that for many of us it goes deeper. Adventuring and exploring calls out to the child or the warrior within, we seek to explore and go beyond. That unclimbed wall, that month-long hike, that is the mystery we seek to know, the battlefield on which we choose to fight against the shackles and let out our souls.
I have known many difficult times with the sports that I love. Reaching out for that last hold while my arms are begging me to let go, pushing bike and body to the top of an ascent with my legs and lungs crying out for oxygen and rest. I’ve had times where I gave up only to regret it later. Other times, with every part of my body and mind saying I need to quit right now, I pushed on and persevered and I will never regret it.
Finding and pushing our limits teaches us who we are, we will learn our own strength, and find our souls and a deeper connection with God.