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Hillary and I just got back from a 4-day canoe trip over the weekend. We generally do backcountry trips, where we bring everything in and out on foot or by canoe, and sleep in a tent. Granted, this particular trip was relatively easy in terms of the distance covered and the nice weather we had, but every time we do one of these trips, it reminds me of two things. One – we take a lot of things for granted every day. Food, shelter, clean water, ready access to the internet, etc. On these trips, our days get focused down on each of those things – moving from one location to another, packing our stuff, preparing food, purifying water… all while typically having no internet connectivity at all. Yes, it’s often hard work, but it also simplifies things down to the essence of what is really required to exist day to day.

And two: there is a lot going on in the natural world that we miss in our daily lives. On one portage on our August trip, we were sitting having lunch on a rock island in a river, there was a small pool of water with a few water boatmen (an insect whose mode of transport depends entirely on the surface tension of water) in it. After watching for a few minutes, I realized that the boatmen were not randomly moving across the water. They were territorial, with some being more aggressive than others, and they moved with the currents in the water. There’s drama to be found in a puddle of water, or a shrub, or a patch of grass, if we only look.

My point is that these trips force us to slow down, to notice things we normally miss, to go days without being in the maelstrom of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, and to focus on the physical world around us.

The next time you’re doing a workout, consider the fact that you have a working body that can do amazing things, and that you have the freedom to throw down with some other like-minded people, uniting against a sedentary lifestyle and a world that often moves too fast. Revel in the fact that you’ve consciously chosen to not take the easy route through life. Slow down those thoughts, and just exist in the physical world of pushing, pulling, tension, relaxation, speed, power, balance. This is real. This is raw. We are physical beings, and movement is what we are built to do. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find some joy in dropping down for your next burpee.