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Ammi Midstokke: Personal challenge replaces pistol dueling

I’m not quite sure how these things happen, but they always seem to start with the formulation of Really Bad Idea No .397 or No. 14. One would think by now I’d have learned to ignore any thought that is prefaced with:

Maybe I should …

Or:

Maybe I could …

Almost always, both of these end with an epilogue of PTSD therapy or, in the very least, chafing that would bring a grown man to his knees.

Recently in a conversation surrounding the consideration of my most current Very Bad Idea, a friend noted that I was in a fetal position for most of the discussion. This leads me to believe that somewhere on a subconscious level I am quite aware of the misery I intend on embracing.

“That’s just crazy,” my big brother said. Because when brothers stop shoving hot peppers into your nose, they find other ways to abuse you. Like using reverse psychology to encourage your Bad Ideas.

From the formulation of the idea until the point of commitment, there is usually about a 37-minute window in which I glorify everything about it. Then I replace the term “Bad Idea” with “Challenge” because it draws much more public support.

Thus determining that pushing oneself to the point of tears is healthy, I attempt to run around a mountain or in this case, sign up for Spokane’s very own 24-hour Round-the-Clock mountain bike race. (Solo, because why not?)

While out training for what may qualify as Worst Idea Yet in an attempt to turn my rear end into tanned leather before race day, I began exploring this idea of challenge.

Webster’s says to challenge is to call or take part in a competition, typically a duel, and typically to prove something. So why is it that we as humans repetitively challenge ourselves? Was it always in our nature or are we just replacing pistol duels with new hobbies?

Based on infinite historical quotes by JFK and the like, it would appear that challenge precedes personal growth and some sort of mysterious spiritual knowledge of self. By this logic, I should be nearly as enlightened as the Dalai Lama by now – as should anyone else who has suffered through a marathon or Ishtar.

The idea of self-challenge is that of leaving the comfort zone. And let’s face it, readers, we all live in a pretty bubble-wrapped comfort zone. Leaving it can bring us to new places, whether they are of self-awareness or mountain views or sobbing next to our bike on the trail.

To challenge ourselves is to commit to a new kind of journey. Sometimes it means just changing your morning walk route. Sometimes it means climbing a mountain. And always it results in something undiscovered. It is what keeps our seemingly routine lives fresh and rewarding.

So if you haven’t had a Bad Idea lately, take some time to ponder the infinite possibilities of discovery. You might just find yourself capable of something you never imagined. Your curiosity may just unveil the limitless potential of your world. You may just want to stock up on chafe balm first.

Maybe you could …

Ammi Midstokke lives in Sandpoint,where she routinely turns Bad Ideas into Great Adventures.

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