What does it mean to Be Your Own Culture?

Is it your values and beliefs? Is it the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, and the food you eat? Does it pertain to the people you hang out with or the books you read?

The above picture is not a happy one; there is no social atmospheric buzz of good music and laughs. There isn’t anyone to keep the person company. You might even say he looks lonely. There certainly isn’t any joy on his face.

The picture, taken by a pacer at the Burning River 100 (race report), is one of loneliness and discomfort. He’s got his bib on and his running shoes are worn. His watch has probably seen better days and his runner’s tan must be something to admire.

This is not a picture, a moment, most people will ever understand.

This is a picture of the Wicked Trail.

Do you understand it, this Wicked Trail?

Can you speak of it with experience?

Can you relate to it’s culture?

Taken 99 miles into his first 100 mile race, this picture displays a runner lost in his own thoughts. What is he thinking? Why does he keep going? Where would he rather be?

He’s no longer running; we can tell that much by his stride, and there is nothing particularly impressive about this picture that can be seen on the surface.

Zoom in.

His eyes aren’t narrowly focused. They’re wide. Disbelief? Awe? Horror?

Are there many runners ahead of him? Are they all behind him? Did he win? Did he finish?

 What was I thinking at mile 99 of my first 100 mile race, when that picture was taken?

Why did I keep going?

Is there really anywhere I’d have rather been?

The horror had already passed, faded into a monotonous dread of each next step. This would soon be overtaken by disbelief and awe as I approached completion.

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 complex organism. It is rooted in the mass-marketing of comfort and opinion.

It feeds on these two intangibles, 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 right way?

Why do people get caught up in monotony, working unfulfilling jobs for an eventual death?

Where is their energy, their excitement for a new day?

Be like this. Act like this. Listen to this. Eat this, drink that. Align with us.

These people, 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.

The culture of the Wicked Trail, captured in the picture at the top, 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 culture do you adhere? Do you align with others and exist in the monotonous dread of daily life? Do you pursue comfort and obsess over opinion?

Or do you seek 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 adhering to a life of strategic discomfort, discomfort with a purpose.

Not twisted, sadistic, random discomfort.

Not discomfort at the hands of others.

Not discomfort of self-doubt due to insecurity.

Strategic discomfort is organized with a purpose. [click here to read about that purpose!] It is dealt out not by others, but on our own terms. And rather than punishment for insecurity, the Wicked Trail points to security in discomfort. We are strong, and we know we are strong.

But our potential, this knowledge of one’s own ‘strength,’ gained by adhering to the Wicked Trail, is only fulfilled in our knowledge that there is always more to accomplish.

There is always a wider river.

There is always a more twisted, gnarled trail.

There is always a taller mountain.

There is always another Wicked Trail.

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 and norms established by a culture that mass-markets comfort and opinion. Complacency and Mediocrity, the thrones of the 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.

Adhere to the Wicked Trail; decide today, for yourself and for others, to throw off the shackles of comfort and opinions. Abandon expectations, what others think is ‘realistic,’ and live life on your terms, at a highly fulfilled level.

Find a Wicked FCKN Trail.

Quality BOCO trucker that looks as good as it feels on. Comfy, breathes well, and is worth the money. Love the mantra and colors! Will be sporting it this weekend at my trail 50K! Lis, Virginia. 2018 Grindstone 100 Finisher

What culture do you adhere to?

Do you live in this culture of the common? Everyone immediately jumps to “No!”

“I adhere to the Wicked Trail,” they say, they believe.

And most people are wrong.

Are you impatient? Do you neglect physical exercise? Do you miss opportunities for lack of motivation or for a fear of failure? Are you worried of losing what you have? Do you blame others for your problems?

Again, most people say “No!”

And most people are wrong.

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 which fulfillment relies upon, 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.

“He tried.”

“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?

Because 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 let go and sit upon your own throne of Complacency and 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.

“What if…”

“How come…”

“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, 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 did not 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.

At mile 99, when the top picture was captured, I was thinking about nothing but the finish line. Not all the food I’d eat, not sleeping, not even the belt buckle I was to earn. I wanted the intangible goal; that’s what kept me going. There was no where else I’d have rather been. 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 peace and fulfillment are found.

And the more opportunities are opened.

“What’s next?”

“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. Medicority 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.

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning. DNF stands for "Did Not Finish;" the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and...

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

share this post

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning. DNF stands for "Did Not Finish;" the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and...

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

share this post

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