Become Discomfort

League of Wildness,

“You are what you did.”

I read this quote several years ago and have regularly reflected back upon the statement. There are times when I will “arrive” at a point in life and ponder how it is that I got there.

When I reverse engineer the process it is often quite clear precisely how I got there - it was a series of choices and ultimately - actions.

You don’t get where you want to go simply by desire.

Similarly, you end up where you don’t want to be because of inaction. Choose your hard.

You have to ACT - move, execute, produce, complete - DO.

Simple, but not easy. It’s uncomfortable.

September is archery elk season here in Colorado. I’ve spent the last two weeks mostly alone in remote wilderness areas hunting. The first few days are incredibly uncomfortable. 

I’m lonely. 

I get scared hiking in the dark. 

I don’t sleep well, or even at all. 

I’m cold. I’m hungry. I miss my family.

Sometime around the 72-hour (3 day) mark there is a shift. I get back into ‘wild mode’. I’m no longer lonely, scared, cold, hungry, and I sleep much better. I still miss my family, but not in the same visceral way that reaches inside you and subconsciously drags you back to the car. 

I’m content and my mind is completely focused in the present moment.

It’s possible to transcend discomfort so that you are discomfort. It is no longer something external acting upon you and therefore, cannot be a source of resistance.

This concept is analogous to the idea of vividly imagining the type of person you want to be and then moving toward that vision with relentless forward progress.

The challenge comes when it is hard to see that progress. I’m extremely impatient by nature and have struggled with accepting the reality of delayed gratification. 

What has helped me the most is the ‘sleep on it’ method. Before making a big decision, giving up, changing the plan - I sleep on it and re-analyze the next day. This pause helps to disrupt the anxiety experienced when we do not get what we want when we want it. Allowing for this process to take place sets me up psychologically to play the long game.

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Gladiator - “Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back”.

When I’m out in the wild, or facing discomfort in everyday life I like to take on a ‘warrior spirit’. I can morph into the warrior mindset, grit my teeth, and then figuratively (and often literally as well) smile back at discomfort. 

This is how I try to become discomfort.

The next time life gets uncomfortable - smile back.  

 -Wildman Dan