"And the sun, it does not cause us to grow
It is the rain that will strengthen your soul
And it will make you whole"
- The Oh Hellos, I Have Made Mistakes
There are some things in life that light you up in unexpected ways. Seasons of growth come in places of hardship and struggle. If we let it, our capacity as humans is constantly expanding; our momentary affliction gives way to greater joy.
Working in Alaska is a place like that for me. It is crushingly hard. Body, spirit, mind stretched to their breaking point. Yet, in a place where I feel stripped of all my strength I find I still have more at the end of it. I walk away having accomplished something powerful and exhilarating. This is what I have chosen to do over the past four summers: breaking myself down in order to be built back up stronger. Above are photos I've taken in some of our slower times fishing. When we're in the shit it is hard to photograph, but I hope you get an idea of the beauty met with hardship that is set netting in the Bristol Bay.
I was asked a question the other day via a podcast: how do I celebrate discomfort? I began to think about the ways I choose suffering for my good and how it has shaped my life. The backpacking trips, the not running away from consequences, the work, the relationships that matter. I am reminded that the good happens when I press into the hard. And the opposite is usually true; life does not move as richly when I cheapen things by choosing what is easy.
I think it's a question you should ask yourself: how do you celebrate discomfort?
Cultures for ages have used hardship for growth. I love this story of mental fortitude I read a while back:
"The early American Indians had a unique practice in training young braves. On the night of the boy's thirteenth birthday, after his fortitude and maturity had been tested by various trials in hunting, fishing and scouting, he was placed in the center of a dense forest to spend the entire night alone... In the woods so thick that even the moonlight could not penetrate, he was left to the terrors of the darkness. Every twig that snapped seemed like a wild animal ready to pounce. Through the night he looked anxiously toward the East awaiting the dawn. After what seems like more like a month than a single night, the fist ray of sunlight exposed the interior of the forest. Slowly the young boy began to distinguish the bushes, the flowers, the path. Then to his utter astonishment, he saw his father standing just a few feet away behind a tree armed with a bow and arrow. Don't you suppose the boy thought, 'If only I had known my father were there, I wouldn't have been afraid of anything.'"
- Brennan Manning, Prophets and Lovers
True depth is costly. How are you going to push back against the comfort we run to daily here in America?
Press into the hard.
Live a good story.
Places like Alaska need to be met head on and face forward. You will surprise yourself when you do rise to the discomfort and battle through.