How many of us continue to push and challenge ourselves? I’m referring to physically, mentally and psychologically. If we want to keep a keen edge and continue to grow we all need to do this on an ongoing basis regardless of circumstances, age or injury (within reason).
As I have become more “seasoned” (plagiarizing Gabe) I find I have a few nagging physical infringements and that it sometimes me a bit longer to fully recover from extended physical exertion. Does that mean I have stopped challenging myself? Hell no. I recently returned from my 3rd trip backpacking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back and while it was a little tougher than before, I accomplished it with vigor and I intend to do it again. Was I a little beat up and sore for a day or so after? Absolutely.
Here is where the mental and psychological part comes in. These are aspects of our internal drive that don’t diminish with age nor are they debilitated due to physical impediments. In fact these grow and strengthen over time and via the challenge process. As I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon a month ago and looked at the bottom I knew I would hike down and back and not waver. I had done it before and familiarity with situations brings us confidence and we are clear on what has to be done and how to do it. Muhammad Ali, in writing about fighting George Foreman in Zaire, talked about how he used the ropes while Foreman pounded away at him and how he went into a “little room” where he had been before and he knew he could withstand Foreman’s onslaught. Withstand it he did and ultimately he prevailed.
The psychology of knowing we can do something and prevail is an exceeding powerful tool in combat situations. “Been there, done that” experience is a huge advantage when faced with a dynamic and somewhat unknown situation and the only way we gain that is by pushing ourselves mentally, physically and psychologically in training.
Does backpacking the Grand Canyon have a direct application for combat situations? Well, certainly, it demonstrates physical fitness which is an absolute necessity but more than that it helps develop the mental and psychological prowess to help us prevail when we’re tired, beat up and a lot of people would quit. I can tell you that it takes a measure of mental and psychological strength to look up at the last 2 miles, virtually straight uphill after 8 miles to get there and 30+ miles in the past 4 days to not give up. It is at this point that those attributes give us the strength to focus on step-by-step and “ruck up” and climb out.
Think about how you and challenge yourself on a regular basis and help strengthen your warrior core physically, mentally and psychologically. In addition to developing into a stronger and more committed warrior the gratification you will achieve will be immeasurable.
Oh and I may have forgotten to mention the additional motivation of having one’s 22 year old daughter with you asking, “You OK Dad, can you keep up? Can we do the rim to rim hike next year?”
You bet we can.