Recently, my younger brother who turns 40 this year, asked me to run a mud obstacle race with him. Many of you may have heard of the “Savage Race” among other ridiculously dirty and challenging obstacle courses where thousands of adults test their abilities, return to their youth for a brief moment, and push themselves through their limits. The goal is to laugh, get really dirty and have lots of fun along the way while praying you can walk the next morning! He has been asking me for over a year, so this time I said, “yes!”
As the reality of what I had agreed to sank in, I went into shock as I looked up these obstacles and realized that not only would I have to jump in an ice pool, but I would be submerging myself completely in mud and jumping from a 16 foot cliff into the muddy water below, among other things. My fear and self-doubt kicked in. What if I get hurt? What if I can’t make it? What if? What if? What if? I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I said yes. I even had a dream about it! However, I am coming to realize that this is providing me with an interesting opportunity. I can approach this with fear and doubt and an expectation of danger, or I can approach this with intentional preparation, belief in myself, and an expectation of fun and bonding with my brother. Which would you choose? One is based in fear, the other courage.
It reminds me of three years ago when I made a life-changing decision to participate in a Vision Quest out in Sedona, Arizona with a group from The Wellness Institute. This entailed a deeply spiritual journey that took one year of preparation and 4 days/nights in a very small protected space in the desert for me to sit with myself and God without distraction. With only a sleeping bag, prayer ties, and my Self, I broke through my fears and experienced the power and miracle of nature, prayer, and grace. Although the Savage Race is not intentionally a spiritual journey, per se, it is definitely an opportunity for me to again test my Self on a deeper level and remember my own courage that was so prevalent during those sacred days and nights in the desert. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the part of us that pushes through fear for the purpose of growth.
How does fear get in your way? Does it disrupt the decisions you make in your life and how you choose to live? Does it seem to be the “go to” lens for processing your experiences? If courage was the primary lens through which to view your life, how might things be different? Lets use a few of the obstacles from the Savage Race to further illustrate this point:
“Davy Jones Locker” – Jump off a 16 foot platform into a muddy pool below. Are you frozen in fear, standing on the edge figuring out all the ways you can get down? OR do you grab your friend’s hand and run off the cliff together laughing and jumping with joy?
“Sawtooth” – Climb across 35 feet of jagged monkey bars with muddy water 10 feet below. Do you stiffly worry about falling into the water OR swing with the playfulness of a child? Who really cares if you get all the way across, wouldn’t you rather know that you tried?
“Shriveled Richard” – Jump into a pool of ice and submerge yourself under a baffle. You can overthink how cold it will feel and wonder if your heart will actually stop beating OR jump in, feel the invigorating jolt that takes your breath away and gain a new appreciation for the Florida heat and for your precious breath.
“Colossus” – Climb up a 16-foot warped wall with a rope to pull yourself that exists half way up the wall. Will you feel overwhelmed by the height, the physically demanding task, and wonder what others will think if it takes 5 times to actually get up? OR will you realize that you have everything you need to accomplish this task, see it as a great opportunity to ask others for help (who are more than willing to lend a hand, foot, boost, pull, shove, etc.), and experience a camaraderie and accomplishment that comes with getting through it together.
“Thors Grundle” – Duck under metal baffles and fully submerge yourself in thick mud. You could allow your thoughts to take over about the feeling of mud, getting dirty, wondering what else lives in the mud, and not being able to see anything while in the mud OR you could allow your inner child to come out to play, get dirty, connect with the primal earth, and release all cares about what you look like because it would actually be more strange if you stayed clean for the entire race!
So what exists in your life that presents a challenge for you to face your fears and access your courage? If nothing presently exists, create something. Try something new, blast through old limitations and take a risk. It may be having a difficult conversation with your partner, asking someone out on a date that you’ve been wanting to connect with, releasing a toxic relationship, taking a class, make an important financial decision, releasing an addictive behavior, challenging yourself physically by lifting heavier weights, running or walking a bit further, or signing up for a crazy mud race with your best friend or sibling. Step into your courage and give yourself the gift of satisfaction that comes from reaching the other side of Life’s obstacles. I can’t wait to hear all about your amazing experiences!