“We sought to build a program that would best prepare trainees for any physical contingency—prepare them not only for the unknown but for the unknowable as well.”- Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit
Going into the unknown and the unknowable isn’t exactly an easy concept to digest. I think it’s part of the magic of the CrossFit concept. We all generally have an idea of what our purpose is when we come to the gym; maybe preparing for another sport or event, or a broad preparation for life’s daily tasks. I would guess that not many people show up with the goal to increase their tolerance of being subjected to the unknown and the unknowable. In fact, that piece is often quite uncomfortable for a lot of people. The discomfort can reveal itself as a “need” to know what the workout is before showing up (the argument that you need to know what to wear or eat is only slightly convincing!). That said, I think over time spent training in a CrossFit gym we all get a little more used to the idea that the unexpected can be thrown our way and we will be ok. Maybe there’s even a little bit of attraction to the concept?
By nature I am a planner and an organizer. I enjoy preparing myself for things and I actually really enjoy trying to figure things out. It’s just how my brain works. As a gym owner, not “client”, I kinda just get to know what’s up behind the scenes. Let’s be honest, that is a fantastic feature for someone who needs to plan and organize all things and likes to be able to see what’s coming. So by default I’m actually excluded from one of the more curious psychological effects of the CrossFit environment.
I have been brave with many things in my life. I have taken on some big goals and been successful. A huge part of the process for me is planning, visualization, and a commitment to an outcome. It’s fulfilling and confidence building. But I have recently realized that a limitation to my drive is that I aim far, but within lateral margins that I understand and can control. So have I then limited my breadth of experiences and potential for fulfillment by operating in such calculated margins. Big question right?
(Totally random side note: If you are someone who understands self care and utilizes physio/massage/chiro/etc, and you don’t also take the opportunity to go to clinical counseling for “mind self care” you are totally missing an opportunity to dig into some deep fundamental questions about yourself. It’s quite a phenomenal experience to develop a relationship with a counselor. I’m very open about going because I want people to understand that it’s not taboo, not just for crisis situations, and can be a normal part of taking care of yourself. I’m amazed how many people I know go semi-regularly for “maintenance” like we would with any other kind of professional body treatment. Talk to me if you want to know more about how to get the ball rolling with this process. If you have extended health care, it’s usually included!)
12 days ago I was home on the Friday evening scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across a link that a friend from the city had posted:
I paused, my stomach fluttered a bit, my brain came up with a couple of quick “I couldn’t because..’s”, but then without thinking about it too much I was aware that there was something very curious about the timing of this in my life, I poured myself a drink, and then I spent the next 1.5 hours filling in the application questions in a text box with no character limit.
1. Tell us about yourself
2. Why do you want into the unknown?
I put it out there authentically (vulnerability to total strangers at a maximum), not trying to figure out what they were looking for but instead answering from the heart. I knew nothing about Chasing Sunrise as an organization but I liked what I could gather from their website and Facebook page. And honestly, look at these sponsors for an all expenses paid weekend… nice work everyone… that’s pretty effing generous I’d say.
I thought about it on and off for the next week in the way you do when you want something but you might not get it so you don’t want to want it too badly. The winners were to be announced this past Saturday. An email was sent out late that afternoon saying they were so overwhelmed by receiving 2000 applications filled with heart and amazing life stories that they needed another 24 hours to make their decision. I tapped into my new patient side and carried on. On Sunday night I checked my email obsessively and at 8:30pm got an email telling me I’m going into the unknown. I had 24 hours to confirm. “Maybe”s are not a thing for Chasing Sunrise; you’re in or you’re out. I like that, it works for me.
As a planner here is what I get to know:
- I’m going off the grid
- I’m gone Saturday 6am to Sunday evening
- I’m allowed one small backpack with clothes for any weather, a headlamp, a bathing suit and a pillow (but not a sleeping bag… I stop my overthinking brain here).
I don’t know where I’m going or anyone I’m going with or really anything about the organizers at Chasing Sunrise. I do know that they have a pretty cool vision, a lot of heart and the giddy up to rally. I’m hard to surprise and generally love guessing so I’m trying not to ruin this for myself. It’s a funny feeling to be excited for something that you don’t know what it is.
I feel like there must be more potential for opportunities like this in our lives. Surely we aren’t dependent upon winning a contest to experience a little bit of exciting uncertainty. I encourage you to think about how this is relevant in your life. Absolutely there are many massive opportunities to dive into the unknown like moving to a new town, taking on a new job, or having kids. But I’m talking about the little moments and opportunities; the kind that make good stories for dinner parties. How often do you say no or maybe to an invitation to do something with someone just because you have never done that thing or hung out with that person before? I think it might be the uncertainty of what will happen or how it will go that really holds us back in those situations. And yet some of the most enriching moments in life come from unexpected opportunities (and IMO from things gone wrong which you certainly would never expect or choose). It’s a brave mindset to say yes to things without really knowing what it might mean. It takes even more bravery to then not talk yourself out of it and make up a very legit sounding reason you can no longer do it.
So…. on that note, enjoy this weekend! Do something new or brave, or say yes to something that you might normally hesitate on. Or better yet, invite someone who you sort of know to do something with you that you think they might not have done before. It’s a very cool feeling of being alive to get a flutter of excitement or nerves and it’s hard to get if you don’t put yourself out there sometimes. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be different somehow.
I’ll let you know what happens!