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Every rose has its thorns. It is hard to argue with lifestyle decisions that are centered on self-preservation and the avoidance of risk or pain. I have even heard it argued that humans shouldn’t take it personally that we have lazy tendencies because seeking the “path of least resistance” has been engrained in our DNA for generations. But the greatest moments of your life will not come from the safety or convenience of your couch.

I once heard a pastor give a sermon about living the dash. The dash being a reference to your tombstone’s sole mention of your earthly existence. (The year you were born) – (The year you died). The chiseled dash encompasses all you offered this life. Every good experience that brought you happiness or fulfillment. Every bad moment filled with disappointment or heartache. It all gets wrapped up in one small horizontal line. How are you going to live your dash? I am no expert on the dash. But I have made deliberate efforts to broaden my horizons to ensure that my dash is characterized by anything but dullness. From quick weekend trips across the southeast for Spartan Races to choosing a weekend hike or trail run instead of binging Netflix, I believe that decisions of adventure are imperative to living a meaningful life.

Last May, myself and three other well-trained men conquered a weekend of endurance running outside of Louisville, Kentucky. Our goal was to complete a Ragnar Trail relay as an ultra-team. The event starts Friday mid-day and wraps up Saturday when your team completes the allotted number of loops/miles (totaling 120+ miles of trails in Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area). In the latter half of the event when sleep deprivation and muscle fatigue started to set in, the serenity of the woods guided my mind to a place of bliss. My body was not firing on all cylinders, but I enjoyed every step on the journey because there is something powerful in shutting out your brain’s call to quit. On a similar note, outside of Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago my family and I found ourselves at the base of the Superstition Mountain range surrounded by breathtaking views. On more than one occasion, I had to pause and appreciate what was right in front of me. About halfway through the hike, I noticed a ridge line about 500-1000 yards off the beaten path that (I assumed) offered a spectacular panoramic view. Based on the scenery we had already experienced, the chance at even greater views was beyond enticing. It immediately became a question, not of if but, how. I left my party and headed for my new destination. A loose-footed climb to the ridge took risk and additional effort which meant the final few steps were cherished. And I can confirm that the being able to capture the landscape from new heights was worth every calculated step. Choosing the path of least resistance may provide a life with less bumps and bruises, but maybe bumps and bruises are the pathway to a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Don Miller, in his recent book Hero on a Mission, writes, “Perhaps the single greatest paradigm shift I’ve had as a human is this idea: I am writing my story and I alone have the responsibility to shape it into something meaningful.” To truly live we need to act. We need to step outside of our comfort zone (which may include comfort clothes) and embark upon experiences that will shape the way our lives are designed. And remember, everyone dies – but not everyone lives.

-Patrick Elzinga


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