Staying Epic in the Hustle

Everyday I try to ask myself, “I wonder how I can accomplish this today?” It’s a small question that I apply to a variety of things. But if anything it continually makes me analyze and plan on the next adventure (or in some cases, problem) no matter how big or small it maybe. Being a developer, I am always trying to find ways to solve problems on a day to day basis. Which has allowed me to take those principles and apply them to other aspects within my life.

But, it’s tricky. And difficult. And uncomfortable at times. Which is why the allure of some of the sports that I choose to participate in are the ones that push the boundaries of your own personal comfort level. Choosing to ride a bike through the Arizona backcountry, self-supported, for 5 days is not anyone’s normal idea of a “vacation”. But the personal reward of completing something like that is mind blowing. And it makes you want to do more. But most importantly, you learn a little more about yourself and the world around you.

Finding a balance to train as well as be committed to my work and my family is tough. I learned that I have to be malleable with my schedule and that sometimes, you have to let those hard to reach items go. Training indoors, for me at least, is not the greatest nor fun. Yet I find a way to make it work and eventually it does pay off. You can’t simulate the outdoors inside, but it does contribute to the process as a whole. Swiss rock climber Didier Berthold put it best one time: “It’s not about being the best, it’s about being the strongest”. And to me that’s what it’s all about. Sure you can strive to be the best at something, but how did you get there? It seems to me that most people are too wrapped up in trying to become the best that they often forget why they are doing the thing they are doing in the first place. As Yvon Chouinard once said: “Climbing Everest is the ultimate and the opposite of what it has become. Because you get these high-powered plastic surgeons and CEOs that pay $80,000 and have Sherpas put the ladders in place and 8,000 feet of fixed ropes and you get to the camp and you don’t even have to lay out your sleeping bag. It’s already laid out with a chocolate mint on the top. The whole purpose of planning something like Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain and if you compromise the process, you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back.” To me, that’s the whole point. Finding a personal objective that you, and only you, can accomplish far outweighs the comparison against someone or something else. You start to understand that how you got there is what was important. And the result really only sets you up for the next thing, whatever that may be. The inbetween stories, good and bad, makes you learn what you needed to make it through and makes you realize what you don’t need in order to survive. Having an open mind set is what keeps me doing epic things while staying within the hustle.

When I started getting into rock climbing I would often get upset at myself if I wasn’t climbing well. I would get frustrated and sometimes kick the wall as if it was the rock’s fault for me not being able to get up the route. But over time (and after reading Arno Ilgner’s book The Rock Warrior’s Way) I realized that I was the one who was responsible for not understanding the process of what I was trying to do. I was merely looking at the end result and expecting it just to appear for me. The rock doesn’t care about me, or what I look like, or who I am, or where I’m from, or what I know. It is just there and the only way that I know that I am going to accomplish getting up a specific line or route is if I appreciate the process. It’s with that ideology, that I try to continually use in my day to day life. Planning out the process and practicing that process is what will make me stronger. It allows me to test out ideas and see if they work. And if they don’t then I know what I need to fix or amend for the next time. We all want everything to go smoothly, but sometimes it doesn’t and you have to be mentally prepared for that as well. In some cases that’s when the real adventure starts! But you can’t let that thing in-between your ears get in the way of your judgement.

This fall, one of my best friends and I are going to ride the Illinois Grand Trail; a 500+ mile loop from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River and back again. The goal is 4 days. So if that means that I need to get my butt up early to get my training in, either outside or on the trainer, then that’s what I need to do since that will allow me to accomplish what I’m wanting to do and then get back to being with my family; getting my wife off to catch her train, getting the kids up and off to daycare, and getting into work. For me, staying epic in the hustle is about not getting lost in the shuffle.


Scott Dunham

Scott Dunham is a Front-End Developer and when he's not busy working on a project you can find him riding his bike for ridiculously long distances, hanging out with his family, or casually snapping a photo. He's also been know to run a few miles here and there and scramble up a rock face or two.