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The Build Up

19 Jun ’09

Our Wedding Photographer Jason Spruill is running an ultra-marathon today. 100 miles in one go… well, in a 30 hour go. He posted this article about Dean Karnazes that started his transition from biking over to running… and more running.

While I’m not about to start running with ultra-marathons in mind, the part that sticks out is this:

If you’re going to explore the boundaries of human endurance, you’ll have to learn to adapt to more and more pain…. This training made the extreme seem ordinary and made the impossible seem the next logical step.

And then in the most recent issue of National Geographic Traveler:

Even while I was planning these trips, I knew that my behavior looked foolish, irrational even. Friends more sober and practical than I counseled me to stay home, hang out, and keep plugging. But I didn’t. I flew out of my trap like a bird, spent eight hours riding from Pondicherry to Kanchipuram in a bumpy Ambassador taxi with marigold garlands bobbing on the rearview mirror. I ate street food, slept on sheets with holes. When strangers invited me home to dinner, I said yes.

What happened, after a while, was that the logic of traveling took over my life and became a habit. Taking a series of little risks over and over every day meant that, in time, risk-taking became no big deal.

Making a hundred small decisions – what to eat, where to stay, how to get from here to there – made decisions in general seem less terrifying. And when I finally returned to a home and a world that looked much smaller and less daunting than when I’d left them, finding a job seemed more like a game than an ordeal.

I have a theory about travel that’s sort of an economist’s argument. In order to travel, we need time and we need money. Ideally, there’s a balance between the two, but when one element is in short supply, an excess of the other will compensate. In the past decade or so, the travel equation’s been out of whack. Too many trips have been about squeezing as much as we can into the few precious vacation days we have and paying a premium for the experience.

There is a certain degree of risk taking and self challenging that I’ve lost. Not that I was ever that big of a risk taker – but there was always an underlying current in the back of my head that repeatedly reminded me that I should be doing impossible things.

Somewhere along the line I stopped thinking in terms of doing the impossible. I’ll admit that some of this is because there are some thoughts that I just KNOW are possible and will happen – and then other things… I started thinking about too logically.

In my head, I took away all of the unknowns. Whether I planned them into oblivion or I delusionally just accepted them as fact – that space in my head where things float around because I can’t put them in a logic box of problem solving – that’s where magic happens. Some how I rationalized all of it away.

I’m sure it’s tied in with the level of risk I take on. It makes sense that the less risks we take on, the less chance we have at experiencing truly great things. Obviously.

… and I suppose I would finish this thought if I didn’t have this nagging feeling that I need to get up and do something. Right. Now.

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