I will never be lost or found on the Pacific Crest Trail, or sail around the world, or jump out of an airplane. For me, life is an extreme sport. Why would I invent more challenges for myself? Why would anyone?
Every day we put ourselves in the path of danger. Who knows what lurks around the corner? A distracted driver, a slippery floor, a tumor. Why add a bear or a rattlesnake, or a faulty parachute to the mix on purpose?
Every day that I don’t hike up and down a mountain is a day of aching, stabbing, throbbing pain. The mountain would kill me, I’m certain of that. So it’s kind of a no brainer.
I might survive skydiving but why risk it? For me just getting on an airplane is an act of bravery, but once I’m up in the air I prefer to stay there until we have reached our final destination.
It’s not that I don’t challenge myself. I do it all the time, in little ways. And sometimes in big ways. Not the kind of things you can write a book about. At least not a book that would be made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. But challenges none the less.
The thing about mundane, everyday challenges is that I don’t usually think of them as challenges, so I don’t prepare for them in the way that one would prepare for say, sailing around the world.
My most recent challenge was a ten day road trip to Montana. For some people the biggest challenge of a road trip is the endless hours in the car, staring out the window, bored. That’s the easy part for me. That’s the part I love.
But I hadn’t been on a road trip in years. I forgot that my body has gotten older and less resilient, or that my ability to digest food or relax in any position is grossly impaired, and that my talent for obsessive thinking has blossomed into a full grown mental illness. In short, I forgot who I am.
Also, I did not give enough weight to the fact that I would be driving through Nevada, Idaho and Montana. I didn’t take in to account how awkward it would feel to ask the waiter at the restaurant attached to the Comfort Inn in Winnemucca, if the French fries were gluten-free. It just felt so completely pointless to ask. Like why would I even go Winnemucca, if gluten is a problem for me?
The road trip was a series of small disasters, minor inconveniences and gorgeous scenery. But as with all good challenges, I learned a valuable lesson; gluten, it turns out, is the least of my problems.