You made it! Only a few weeks of Winter’s gloom remain and the end of the Outlier Challenge is already upon us. Wasn’t it a quick 6 weeks? With each year’s Challenge, we attempt to deliver a fresh package of full-bodied human (10) experience. Likely, that meant a bit of mental and physical stretching for everyone. Whether it was noodling on the sophistication of Zone portioned meals or staring down an ice-cold shower, we hope you found yourselves properly tested throughout the journey. Moreover, maybe it goaded you into questioning what it really means to be fit and live a vibrant, healthy life. It’s that line of thinking and patchwork idea – what does it mean to live a proper life – that I hope to stitch together here.
You’ve probably heard one coach or another mention the hero’s journey throughout your time at the gym – probably referencing a workout, a brand of metabolism, Jordan Peterson or maybe even Steve’s favorite – Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was that heroic thread that lead me into a mythological deep-dive as the years transitioned and the Outlier Challenge began. At best, my understanding of myths were shaky. These are the oldest stories we know and I wasn’t sure how to interpret them. Are they fact…fiction…a fiction more true than fact? To find out, I did the most ‘obvious’ thing: signed up to take a Greek and Roman Mythology class and plunged head-long into a Joseph Campbell book.
To be clear, I’m not here to harangue you into reading Homer or Ovid, nor to virtue signal from atop an ivory tower. But, I do believe there to be a relevant mythological story worth sharing as we hem-up the end of this year’s Challenge. It’s the story of Ariadne’s precious thread and it’s a love story – kinda. Briefly, the girl (Ariadne) falls in love with the boy (Theseus). This boy is slated to be offered as sacrifice to a monster (Minotaur) living in a maze (the labyrinth). To save the boy she loves, the girl gives the boy a sword to slay the monster and a ball of thread in order to retrace his steps escaping the maze afterwords. Long-story-short: it works and the two sail into the setting mythological sun.
I can hear you already. Galen, how does all this even begin to relate?
Hopefully, like Ariadne’s gifts to Theseus, the Outlier Challenge armed you with genuine weapons to face your daily monsters. Swords like:
- Nutrition – a functional understanding of various feeding/fasting strategies coupled with a quality, quantity, and nuance focus
- Movement and Mobility – be active everyday and quickly find yourself enjoying the benefits of compounding effort
- Sleep – maybe we can finally and literally put the “I’ll rest when I’m dead” mantra bed; every hero in every story enjoys a long sleep after their toils
Likewise, when the monsters of our personal fitness are slain, we hoped that the nonfitness related Outlier challenges would provide a guiding thread to find a way through life’s own version of the labyrinth. How does one best live a human life? That’s a riddle with no definitive answer, but we think it’s spun with one thread of quality, loving relationships and one thread of humble, self-discovery. Too often we look for great wealth to save us or a great authority to answer our questions when all we need is a lone piece of string.
Wherein lies the truth of a myth? That answer is as deep as it is wide. But, I’ve tied myself to the notion that myth teaches what’s far below the surface of literature and art. It attempts to get at the gist of what it means to live a proper human life. Sounds a lot like philosophy, doesn’t it? Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. Perhaps the fabric of timeless philosophy is knitted on the frame of a mythological loom. Who knows. What I am certain is that like Ariadne’s love saved Theseus from the labyrinth, we hope that our admiration of you Outliers at 10Experience helps you to realize the same powerful potential available in your life’s unique maze. A fitness challenge is merely a challenge until it refines how you view yourself and updates the way you choose to live. When you acknowledge your inner hero, you recognize the greatness of your own strength…and leave that selfsame guiding thread for all to follow. In doing that, you not only enrich your own existence, but you nudge the world in a much better direction.
Still carrying fire (plus a ball of thread),
Campbell, J., Moyers, B. D., & Flowers, B. S. (2012). The power of myth. New York: Turtleback Books.
Online Courses From Top Universities. Join for Free. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2019, from https://www.coursera.org/learn/mythology/home/welcome