At the risk of sounding cliché, we are living in some strange times. Depending on your job and lifestyle, it feels like someone scooped our lives up, threw them in a blender, and superglued the puree button down. To make matters worse, there’s a lot of back and forth decision making and policies being implemented. What a confusing and frustrating cluster.
Now more than ever, we need the endorphin releasing, self-efficacy-increasing positive effects of outdoor adventuring. However, depending on where you live and the current state of affairs in your state and city government, this may not only prove difficult, but it might very well be prohibited.
So what can be done about it? To work around it, we have to get a bit creative, be patient, and as always, act thoroughly and deliberately.
“None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” -Thomas Edison, 1929
The same can be said for my adventures and endeavors. They aren’t an accident. They start with an idea, then the work begins. And almost always, hours, days, weeks, and even months of planning and preparation will result in a handful of minutes, if not just seconds, of heart-racing, perma-grin-inducing, good old fashion, fun. Ol’ Tommy-boy Edison was ahead of his time and smarter than the average bear, that’s for sure. He saw this COVID thing on the horizon and knew that if we were to get through it, we would have to think through it, to be deliberate and persistent. So let’s take a look at what it takes to make a successful adventure happen (regardless of COVID-19).
I suppose you could just shoot from the hip on a lot of things, but when it comes to things with moderate or significant consequence, that’s not really my style. At the very least, a loose plan with some contingencies built in and letting others know what to do in the event you’re not heard from for a while (“drop dead time”) is not only a good idea; it’s the responsible thing to do.
But in the case of COVID where some areas are closed off and doctors and health care workers are in short capacity due to layoffs/furloughs and high capacity cases, a solid plan is a solid idea.
Some things to consider before your adventure are your familiarity of the area you are heading to, your proximity to emergency services, the current state of emergency services in that area, the availability of communication with other people and emergency services in that area (cell phone range), and obviously, the likelihood of a debilitating injury related to your outing/adventure.
In close relation to thinking about emergency services, is to consider the second and third order effects of a debilitating injury on your employment and financial situation. While a lot of businesses have become quite flexible and have offered virtual and modified employment options for their employees, the addition of medical bills or time away from such a valuable commodity such as employment in current times could turn what used to be a bump in the road into considerable struggle. In short, make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
Another consideration that should be thought of is the resources you are going to need to make the outing a success. This isn’t really COVID-19 specific, but is important enough to mention. Water, food, navigation tools, and clothing/attire should all be at the forefront of your planning regiment.
It’s no secret that excuses are like assholes. But COVID-19 lockdowns are no excuse to fail to maintain at least some level of physical readiness and health. From the Thighmaster with Suzanne Sommers to the latest SOFLETE Garage Gym minimalist programming with Uncle Doug, excuses for not working out and maintaining fitness are about as valid as a late-night tweet from Trump.
Although both are probably equally entertaining.
The point is, there is always something you can do. Take a lesson from Edison and get creative, solve the problem you’ve encountered, and stay physically relevant and viable.
Got a floor? Do some pushups, flutter kicks, walking lunges, and air squats. Got a block? Run around it. Got kids? Lift them repeatedly. Don’t have kids? Use your neighbors kids. Got a car? Push it down the street. Catching my drift? The point is if we see what we are looking for. Free yourself from your echo chamber lockdown of confirmation bias and start looking for solutions. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can find them.
Depending on what you have in your sights, there may be a certain level of preparation involved in your mission. This is where things may get a little more difficult. If your endeavor involves technical proficiency or a level of currency that the current COVID-19 situation is hampering, there are still things you can do to make sure that you and your gear are ready when the green flag is dropped.
In the Ranger Regiment, we used to half-joke about the fact that anytime you came to a crossroads in life or a situation, just refer to the Ranger Creed, find your answer, and move on.
In this case, the part about “Care of Equipment” is appropriate (as well as “Physically Strong,” but I digress). We can never know our equipment well enough and we can always make an improvement either in its functionality or level of care. So in the event that you can’t use the gear or use it to its full potential, then at least make sure it’s in working order, clean, and ready to be used. Additionally, take the down time to ensure that you actually know how to use it, and use it properly. The most Gucci gear is useless in the hands of an ignorant user. In Regiment, we actually took great pride in being referenced as “Gear Queers.” We enjoyed the fact that our level of knowledge and proficiency in our gear was considered strange or odd. Get intimate with it. Get prepared. Get queer.
Regardless of your situation, whether you have gotten out and after it or have completed all of the above but are still waiting for restrictions to be lifted, reflecting on the process is probably the most important and rewarding part.
There’s a saying in certain circles that goes, “You’re either winning, or your learning.” I like this, but I also like to think that we can learn whether we win or lose. This learning typically comes from reflecting on the event or process, so to imply that you can’t or shouldn’t reflect on a win seems a bit shortsighted. In any event, it’s this reflection that I feel is where we learn and receive a higher level of joy and feeling of accomplishment.
So whether it’s a reflection of the planning, conditioning, and preparation process or the event itself, it is incredibly important to take the time, even for just a few minutes, to acknowledge, give credence, and think about what worked, what didn’t, and how you adapted to made it happen. Much like the rest and recovery following a workout, this is where gains happen. So don’t skip this part and negate all the hard work you put in. Do it. Enjoy it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that down time isn’t a bad thing. Rest, refit, and recovery are all very important functions in any athlete, operator, or adventurer’s repertoire. Additionally, if down time for you means no adventuring and exploring, it shouldn’t mean no personal growth as well. Take a class, gain a certification, read more, write more, paint more, learn more. GROW! Don’t allow yourself to stagnate. Moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone. GET ROLLING!
If all this sounds like I’ve been turned to the darkside after being abducted by the fun police, rest assured that it’s not the case. The idea, like always, is to have fun, push ourselves, maintain an appreciation for the outdoors, but to do it in a way that is sustainable in order to maintain self-preservation in the process. While COVID-19 has made the latter a bit higher on the ladder of consideration as of lately, what good is having fun if you can’t keep doing it over and over again? In the end, determine your options and weigh the risks versus reward. I’m stoked to see what you guys and gals come up with. Share (don’t flaunt) your adventures with Die Living, SOFLETE, and myself and help build a supportive, responsible community of edge pushers and fun havers. See you out there.