Book of the Month: The Comfort CrisisMay 09, 2022
My brother Andy recently recommended a book to me- written by Michael Easter, called The Comfort Crisis.
I've gotta be honest... Most of the time I avoid books with premises like this one, but the recommendation just happened to hit me at the right time. I had been in the middle of a very stressful life situation for over six months and found myself slowly moving into negative habits of self-treatment to avoid the pain of the situation. You might call it the classic "slow boiling of the frog." My wise and beautiful wife Rachel asked me a great question one morning on our walk. She simply asked me if my behavior/ self-treatment was the most loving response to myself or my family. Her non-judgmental question jarred me. I knew I needed to make some changes.
In our honest and trusting relationship, we have a joke that we often use to challenge one another when we are tempted to have a mid-life crisis. We say in a satirical voice to the other, "don't blow up your life!" I was pretty certain that I wasn't going to blow up my life in a dramatic one-push detonation, my self-treatment of stress over the previous months was not fostering good overall health. My brother's recommendation to read this book was timely.
As I began reading about the author's journey of "re-wilding" his life, the book gripped me right away. I have been intrigued with a new movement of modern outdoors enthusiasts who are reclaiming early conservationist doctrine and reconnecting with the deeper things found in nature. Folks like Steve Rinella from Meat Eater and many others have pointed out that we are the first generation to have the ability to be entirely disconnected from our food sources and the natural world around us if we choose to. They are also modeling life alternatives in a thoughtful way.
The science of what this modern phenomenon of disconnection is doing to our minds and bodies is alarming. Michael Easter does a masterful job of exploring these themes while intertwining his own personal story of transformation into the book. I couldn't stop listening to the book and went on to watch his interview on episode 1649 of Joe Rogan's podcast. I know- I know... Joe Rogan... but it's a good listen.
Since reading the book I have begun hunting and fishing avidly again. I also have begun a poor man's version of rucking on my morning walks with my wife. This weird-sounding practice basically entails carrying anywhere from 35 to 55 lbs of weight in an old Coleman hiking backpack that I bought from a local Boy Scout troop liquidation sale. I will probably be writing more on this form of exercise, but it has been quite the journey.
Rachel was originally less than excited to walk our dog with me looking like I took a wrong turn off the Appalachian Trail and ended up hundreds of miles away in our suburban neighborhood, but she has come to accept my attempt to be healthy as somewhat better than the alternative. I was vindicated a few weeks ago when I went to pick up my brother-in-law Wes for a day of fishing with a guide from Mad River Outfitters. Just after jotting off the interstate and entering his suburban paradise, I passed an entire group of official "ruckers" getting their workout in before hitting their workday in Columbus Ohio. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog titled "What the Ruck?"
I won't give an entire review of the book because I don't like when movie trailers give all the good parts away. I will encourage you to read it even though there will possibly be parts of it that you may or may not agree with. Michael Easter writes in a blunt but authentic style, but if you're where I was- maybe you need a healthy dose of realism too.
There is an episode of the sitcom The Office where Micheal, Dwight, and Andy film themselves doing really terrible renditions of parkour. It crescendos with Andy falling through an empty refrigerator box after jumping off a roof. Ever since I have read this book I have been challenged to go outside no matter what the elements are. I have waded the chilly waters of the Mad River without waders (one of my best evenings fishing), hunted in unseasonable conditions, and taken long rucks getting caught in rain and snow. Rachel and I joke every time I do these things referring to Michael Scott's yelling of "parkour!" In our version of the joke, we yell out "Comfort Crisis!"
I'm no Michael Easter, but I am working on breaking my own comfort crisis and re-wilding my life! If you do read the book, jump on our Facebook Page and let me know what you think, and hashtag #comfortcrisis
Update: Since writing this article on my old website around 8 months ago, I have been enjoying a healthier lifestyle. Just a year ago I was dealing with chronic back pain and spending thousands of dollars on MRIs and everything else people recommended. I was also lethargic, and dealing with depression. I began taking a small dose of Cymbalta for significant arthritis an MRI showed in my tailbone. It's kind of nice because it has been proven to help with minor depression and pain at the same time. I also changed my diet by adding Kachava into my morning routine. It isn't cheap but it often replaces my breakfast and lunch with one serving. Finally, I am currently off the liquid bread which is what I call the IPAs. I struggle with temperance for anything from too much music to too much work and so on, so I just decided to cut it. I feel more present. I have also used low doses of CBD products for sleep, recovery, and focus. I just have to be careful with it like anything else in my life.
At the end of the day, I had to find a form of exercise I enjoy. Taking walks with my wife and our boxer Mazie is something I have come to love. Therefore, adding the weighted ruck was something that was easy to integrate. I have also integrated stretching into my day.
I now am able to enjoy the outdoors again lifting everything from my new Stealth-Craft Hooligan Raft, to pulling a buck I harvested this fall from the place I field dressed it uphill to the trail.
Most importantly, I am more present for my family, friends, and employees!
Check out our free comprehensive PDF Take Your Child Fishing
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