It would be fair to say that I like doing things that other people often consider weird. Taking cold showers, swimming outdoors and dragging tyres spring to mind, as do most of the things on this page.
I PULLED TYRES to train for a planned North Pole trip. It’s the standard training method for that sort of thing because it replicates dragging a sledge. I loved it. Grunting my way through Hyde Park clad in lycra was my ideal way of spending a lunch break.
I STARTED TAKING COLD SHOWERS whilst training for my triathlon last year. It helped me adjust to open water swimming and it’s supposed to be good for muscles after training. Not to mention the fact that if I got out of the pool and had a hot shower before cycling to work, I’d be sweating buckets when I arrived.
BUT then I decided to pull out of the polar plan and no longer had a reason to drag man’s greatest invention.
AND when I had completed the triathlon and no longer needed to train, I stopped taking cold showers.
No cold showers, no tyre dragging.
THEN, in a public library in Sweden, exahausted and elated after two month’s on expedition, I read an article about improving your life that suggested making cold showers part of your daily routine.
I didn’t need to hear another word. I cycled back to my campsite and, the very next morning, jumped with glee into the icy embrace of a cold jet stream. That was a couple of months ago now and I’m still going.
THEN, last week, my friend said he wanted to start pulling some tyres to get ready for a polar trip. “Let me know if you need a training partner!” I interjected without hesitation, despite there being no obvious reason for me to do it.
I needed an excuse.
These things are pretty weird at the best of the times and, although I enjoy them for their own sake, it doesn’t mean it’s not testing or awkward when people ask me: “Why?”.
But, if I’ve got a handy excuse like “I read it on Al’s website” (for the cold showers) or “I’m just helping out a mate” (for the tyres) then it makes it just that little bit easier.
So, consider this your excuse.
Go out and do something you’ve always wanted to try, used to do but no longer have a reason to, or secretly enjoy but are a bit embarrassed about. And, when somebody asks you why you’re doing it, just tell them…
“Oh, I read this weird article on this website and it said I should give it a go”
That is an awesome post. As usual, your activity list is inspiring! A cold shower does sound more appropriate. I remember in Tanzania having cold showers for a month. After the first couple, I didn’t even think about the temperature, I was just glad to be slightly cleaner…haha! Funny how priorities adjust in different situations.
I had a look at the dictionary definition of excuse after reading this article and found this – “to regard or judge with forgiveness or indulgence; pardon or forgive; overlook (a fault, error, etc.)”.
I don’t think you need to seek forgiveness, nor do I see tyre pulling as an indulgence, fault or error. You say here:
‘These things are pretty weird at the best of times and, although I enjoy them for their own sake, it doesn’t mean it’s not testing or awkward when people ask me: “Why?”.’
Bear in mind that the activities are only ‘weird’ in the context of some sort of perceived cultural convention. If everybody in the world pulled tyres and you didn’t, you would be the ‘weird’ one. [I somehow suspect that you would be the guy not pulling tyres, however!]
If you want to drag tyres, then drag tyres. To me that fits with who you are – somebody who pushes boundaries and tests assumptions. If you enjoy doing it, then enjoy it and be proud of it (not that you aren’t, I know you are!). Being proud and confident in the ‘crazy’ stuff also engenders confidence in others to test their own assumptions and try these activities out too. I think excusing your participation in weird activities gives people the justification to excuse their LACK of participation in these activities.
If others are questioning your behaviour, even slightly, then they’re not people who enjoy being moved out of their comfort zone. In essence, pulling tyres or taking cold showers doesn’t fit in their reality (which is probably a function of everyone else’s reality anyway) and it makes them uncomfortable.
To be frank, I think it would be stranger if you WEREN’T doing these things, as then the culture I perceive you belonging to would conflict with your actions to some extent.
That’s not to say that these two “cultures” are mutually exclusive, they’re clearly not, which is essentially the whole point of this web page! I just like to have people say “Wow, cool. That really fits with what you’re doing and who you are.” as opposed to “Why are you doing that? Nobody else does and I certainly wouldn’t do it.”
I guess that’s why it’s best to associate with people who are always optimistic, helping out and generally motivating you AS WELL AS people who could certainly be motivated by people like you but just need that little kick of confidence. That’s where websites/people like The Next Challenge and Esc The City come in!
I was just out walking the St Bernard-Cross-Newfoundland beasts one day when I was asked why I had a very large, heavy looking rucksac on my back. “I’m training for Another Long Way Down”, I should have said, but just could not resist casting a gaze at the 2 x 150lb dogs by my side and saying without the slightest hint of a smile, “Pooper Scooper and Bags!” The lady didn’t even flinch at this reply but said, “Ah! a responsible dog owner!” I managed to get a good few hundred meters down the road before the grin became obvious.
I love the definitio – great comment.
Thought processes like that should be up on your own blog (http://www.michaelhallsmoore.com) not hiding away on the comments section of mine!
tim, i really feel like leaving the office, going home, getting into my $5 opshop sweatpants, snuggling up in a blanket with a cup of hot choc, listening to good music, and just DOING NOTHING. also, i feel like dropping this whole phd thing.
you cool if i use you as an excuse? pretty please?
Yeah, you’re right…I did actually think of making a gag about that at the end of the “essay” :-)
Hi Vania, I’ll happily take any resultant flak from your PhD supervisor this time but let’s not go abusing this excuse, eh?
Enjoy the hot choc (mine had marshmallows).
Pingback: Trekking across Antarctica (in the field next to my house) | James Borrell
Awesome post! I love that your doing something because you feel like it. I am a pro. long distance dogsled racer, not the usual job for a 30 yo British girl. I lived at a base camp for 8 months in the Norwegian wilderness, no electric, now toilet, no water, 20 miles from a road, just 2m of snow & my dogs. So I totally get the “Why” question. I usually let the asker feel comfy & put it down to training. But sometimes I ask “why not” or “why do you watch TV?”
I think its important to remember that all trends, fashions & eventually rituals & traditions performed by the majority, were started by the individual, a weirdo that refused to be a sheep & chose to be different, then it caught on, got popular, someone figured out a way to make money from it, so it was marketed & thus it became “normal”. Take Snowboarding. I wonder how many “Why” & “weirdo” & strange looks, the guy that rode a plank of wood, instead of buying some skiis got? Adventure comes from choosing the path of MOST resistance!
Thanks Mel. It sounds like you’re fighting the good fight!
Pingback: How To Get Ideas and Inspiration For An AdventureThe Next Challenge | The Next Challenge
Pingback: Walking Across Frozen Lake Baikal | The Next Challenge