By Jeff Lund
I was thinking about Danny’s trek up Mt. Whitney the other day and realized (not for the first time) that I’m not young anymore. I’m not old (I’m 38) but I’m in that transition period where I have to decide what type of 40-year old I’m going to be because that will impact the type of 50-year old I will be and so on, then act accordingly.
It’s not about doing one cool thing per year. You know, rising up out of slothfulness to regain whatever is left of that motivation or youthful spirit that has otherwise been replaced by softness, passivity and Queso dip. It’s about always being ready, so you don’t have to give yourself three months to get into shape.
It’s about living in such a way that I could do anything (within reason) at any point in the year. There was no doubt that Danny was in shape enough to hike that mountain, all he had to do was maybe prepare for the altitude and duration. I know Danny, and many of you, at any given moment could handle anything the local National Park can throw at you. With the exception of those rock climbing folk who make me uncomfortable.
Mt. Whitney isn’t symbolic of an achievement, it’s symbolic of being prepared and able. A product of a lifestyle, not the peak of one’s existence. You don’t come down the metaphorical mountain once you head down the trail. You’re always up there, always ready. Once you recover from the chaffing.
I know people who ran marathons, then ran more marathons then ran ultra marathons. I know people who ran one to run one, then retired. I know people who ran the first one because they had a cause they didn’t want to let down. But once the race was over, it wasn’t as transformative as they thought because it was all about the cause and the result, not the lifestyle. They went back to their old habits, which, in some cases, included poor health.
I ran two marathons and six half marathons. I can confidently say I don’t want to run either again because I’d much rather beat up my joints hiking mountains but I want my daily routine as a 38-year old to be rigorous enough that should life require me to run a half marathon, I could.
I like feeling bad when I start to get a little sloppy. That means I care and know that my lapse is not the type of person I want to be. And I like to be friends and associate with people like Danny. Not enablers. Doers.
Jeff Lund is a freelance writer from Ketchikan, Alaska. His podcast The Mediocre Alaskan is available on iTunes