When a person embraces mediocrity and settles into a complacent existence, he or she admits an unpreparedness for life and an unwillingness to reach the highest fulfillment of his or her time on Earth. This person lives in the culture of the common. Men and women, stunted by a victim mentality, who watch success and fulfillment from afar, wondering why life left them behind.
This might be you.
The ‘culture of the common’ is a contagious organism. It feeds on the mass-marketing of comfort and opinion.
Why are obesity and ‘body positivity’ such hot topics right now?
Why is impatience accepted as ordinary and why has the easy way become the best way?
Why do people get caught up in monotony, working unfulfilling jobs for an eventual death?
Think of friends and family: everyone is stressed out and anxious, and the mental health of society is on the decline.
Where has wellness gone; where is everyone’s energy, their excitement for a new day?
Do you ever think about these things?
Be like this. Act like this. Listen to this. Eat this, drink that. Medicate. Ignore it. It’s just a part of life.
Align with us.
Your friends, coworkers, and family have bought in. They see the success of strangers and feel the radiating opinions of others; they feel stress and taste adversity and seek to balance it with comfort.
Opinions and comfort.
Culture relies on opinion, is built on opinion. Rampant social media addiction, the inability to listen to others in conversation, the perpetual ‘one-upping’ that exists in dialogue, body positivity: each of these cultural deficiencies are driven by opinion.
Opinion, my friend, may be driving a wedge between you and that which you desire.
Opinion is the thief of time; I spend too much time engaged with social media. I want to know what people think of me, I want them to hear my opinions (note: it’s not just other people’s opinions holding you back), and I want to have a window into their lives.
Our minds are stimulated by attention and rewarded with instant access to attention. Attention on others, attention on ourselves, and attention on success or entertainment.
What is everyone up to and with whom or what is everyone engaging and where do I fit in to this exchange of attention, this market of opinions? Likes, comments, shares, messages: Opinion.
Perhaps even more than time, opinion robs us of knowledge and experience. Opinion asserts itself in conversation; others must hear ours without seeking it, and we must hear others’ with every decision. It impedes conversational flow and abruptly changes the focus from experience or ‘Person A,’ to ‘Person B.’
Learning in dialogue and experiencing another person in conversation is sidetracked for opinion.
A person is robbed of experience when culture weighs in on decision-making. Be like this. Act like this. Listen to this. Eat this, drink that. Medicate. Ignore it. It’s just a part of life. Align with us.
Be realistic. Temper expectations. Find another way. Success depends on… You need to work on… You should be… You should try…
Make a decision and prepare for the noise of culture to blast you with opinion.
Adhere to the lessons and wisdom of culture, this blast of opinion; your visions of excellence, your pursuit of fulfillment, and the fierce potential within you will whither and fall into a heap of ash.
Because, today, culture is wed to comfort.
Comfort Is A Lie, the executioner of potential.
Live by the culture of common men and women, wed to comfort, and your potential will whither and fall into a heap of ash.
Complacency, such satisfaction with one’s status that he or she sees no purpose in going farther or improving, is attributed to comfort. You see no reason to continue, or achieve more, because this place you’ve reached is comfortable enough; ambition is derailed and goals cast aside.
Mindless comfort invites complacency. Allow your mind to wander away from the Wicked Trail, from challenge and opportunity and discomfort, and you are vulnerable to the comfort movement. Eat for pleasure, accumulate materials, medicate your woes; mindlessly participate in comfort. Soft couches, large TVs, warm showers and beds, sugar and alcohol and caffeine, headphones while training: these seem inconsequential until you look at the state of culture.
Medication, drug-abuse, obesity, apathy toward wellness, procrastination, toxic silence in relationships: the results are pouring in. Men and women, adhering to and living of a culture that mass-markets comfort, are experiencing an emotional death.
It’s a death that takes away true immersion in experience; this lack of experience eats away at sensation. Sensation removed, mountains and cold streams and warm sunshine and pain and fear and adventure are forgotten.
With immersion in experience stolen, and sensation removed, fulfillment and joy are robbed from a person’s life.
The Wicked Trail
The culture of the Wicked Trail is a complete rejection of opinion and comfort.
This culture isn’t tangible.
It isn’t discernible to strangers.
People won’t see the way you dress or what you eat or the music you listen to and say “His culture is that of the Wicked Trail!” the way someone might look at an artist or performer or student or person of faith and identify his or her culture.
I speak of a culture of your mind.
To which do you adhere? Do you align with culture and exist in a dearth of experience and sensation and joy? Do you pursue comfort and obsess over opinion?
Or do you live by the Wicked Trail?
The Wicked Trail is a compass in your mind. This Wicked Trail, this compass, guides us to challenge, to adversity, with a clear understanding that the fullest potential of one’s life cannot be achieved without the rejection of opinion and comfort, of the culture that has overtaken the minds of the masses. Mediocrity, complacency, and ‘fitting in’ have no place here, on the Wicked Trail.
The Wicked Trail points to security in discomfort. We are strong, and we know we are strong.
We’ve found fulfillment in our knowledge that there is always more.
More miles to run. More rivers to cross. More adventures to be had.
More knowledge to gain. More sensation to experience. More adversity to face.
Another mountain to climb. Another race to run. Another Wicked Trail to conquer.
This is what it means to Be Your Own Culture.
Be Your Own Culture is the relentless pursuit of the uncommon; it is a rejection of the standards worshiped by a complacent and mediocre world. Complacency and mediocrity, the thrones of common men and women, we burn down. Be Your Own Culture is the mindset that nothing is certain except death and our own ability to be whatever we want to be in relation to this death.
Those sitting on the thrones of complacency and mediocrity have no say.
They will bask in comfort, the great lie, and die as cowards; they will hold fast to opinion and sink to the stature of those abiding by it.
Adhere to the Wicked Trail. Decide today, for yourself and for others, to throw off the shackles of opinion and comfort. Abandon expectations, what others think is ‘realistic,’ and live life on your terms, at a highly fulfilled level.
Find a Wicked FCKN Trail.
What any online coach, trail running partner, blog post, or concerned family member won’t tell you is that the Wicked Trail, this compass of adversity upon which fulfillment relies, is scary. They’ll send positive messages and tell stories of motivation and success. They’ll hype you up for challenge and tell you that you’re good enough. They’ll encourage and cheer as you begin your journey toward adversity and discomfort, guided by the Wicked Trail.
They’ll support your pursuit of culture, your own culture.
And when the sun goes down and you’re at ‘mile 70,’ when its pouring down rain and the mud is deep, when you’re close to failure, they’ll pull you from the Wicked Trail. They’ll pull your focus from this path of adversity. They’ll offer warmth and comfort in words and actions. They’ll offer you a throne in the halls of the common.
“She should’ve quit long ago.”
“It was worth a shot.”
“It’s not for everyone.”
Why the change? Why do people jump from encouragement to consolation?
The culture of the common gives a person no choice. Fulfillment is found in alignment and relation; it is found in existing as others exist.
Weakness is justified in surrounding oneself with the weak. And they are plenty.
These people were in your position and found the adversity too grueling, the darkness impenetrable, and the mud too deep.
They left the Wicked Trail, our culture, and found an easier way.
What will you do?
When life is cruel, when your goal is many miles or years away and the adversity is relentless, will you adhere to this culture of the common? Will you step off the Wicked Trail and thank those consoling you for the kind words and thoughts? Will you settle in to their routines and habits? Will you abandon that which you set out to accomplish?
Will you take the opinions and comfort?
Will you let go and sit upon your own throne of complacency, or mediocrity?
I want you to look around next time you’re in public. The mall, a busy street, or a restaurant will do. Take it in. Those around you, trapped in the culture of the common, treat this life as a permanent existence. They will all die and leave nothing behind. Death will come shamefully and slowly over their lives; not a physical death, but a mental and emotional one. Regrets might be their last burning thoughts before comfort and alignment with others stifle even this flame.
“Imagine if I’d…”
This all-too-common mental and emotional death, a yearning for what one missed and continues to miss, can be avoided. There is a cure. This cure is the Wicked Trail.
You must Be Your Own Culture.
Pursue excellence in mind, body, and spirit. No, not comfort and contentment. Excellence. Be uncommon. Culture tells us to eat for pleasure, spend liberally, and gather mortal items. Find an easier way, look to others for the answer, stay within the lines. Exercise for ‘happiness’ in self-image (why this is toxic), find balance in your life, slow down with age, fit in and align with others.
“Get off the Wicked Trail and be like us.”
They seem to forget: You’re going to physically die one day.
My thoughts when I signed up for my first ultra marathon, and then my first 100 mile race [read about it here], resonate this idea: I am going to die one day. I have a relatively short time to explore my mind and body, and the world.
Do I have what it takes? Can I do that? What is on top of that ‘mountain?’ I wanted to know the answers to these questions. I didn’t want life to pass me by, taunting me with adventure and fulfillment as I sat in a sad state of “What if?”
I wanted to see what the Wicked Trail was all about. I wanted to taste pain and suffering in preparation for the toils of life. I wanted to feel the ecstasy of finishing a 30 hour race. I wanted to meet others who are capable of more than I and to inspire those who don’t think they are.
I wanted the intangible goal. I found, in my pursuit of possibility, that the finishing of a goal, a long and arduous process filled with adversity, is an incredible reward. The more challenging the endeavor, the more joy and fulfillment are found.
And the more opportunities are opened.
“Imagine what I could do if…”
“I bet I could…”
This is an existence outside of culture, the culture of the common. Break free from the shackles and Be Your Own Culture. Mediocrity and complacency are diseases; eradicate them from your mind. Expell them through sweat, tears, and blood as you climb your own mountain, run your own Wicked Trail.
“What’s next?” you’ll wonder as you lace up your shoes for another adventure.
2 thoughts on “Be Your Own Culture”
Thanks, Zach! This is one of our first articles written and still is one of my favorites. Stay on the Wicked Trail…
By far my favorite post, I’ve read this numerous times and before races, love this read!