On Type 2 Fun

While I love a good spa day, my kind of “retreat” is about seeking discomfort.

This is called “Type 2 fun” among outdoor enthusiasts.

“Type 2 isn’t actually fun in the moment. In fact, it feels much like suffering. It’s only after that you come to realize you had fun. Wading through chest-deep snow, hikes that never seem to end, and anything that offers an overriding sense of doom are clear indications you’re having a Type 2 experience.

Type 2 fun is so fulfilling because it’s a flow experience, as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

“The best moments occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

I just returned from a solo retreat down near Zion.

On this retreat, my stretch was a beast of a hike.

11-miles with a 1200+ foot elevation drop into Echo Canyon, a 1200+ foot ascent to Observation Point, and then the return…all starting at an elevation of 6500 feet on a toasty 87 degree day in a no service zone, with type 1 diabetes.

I got lost at one point, adding a mile to my route, and then ran out of water with 2 miles of steep ascent to go.

And this is where Type 2 fun kicks in big time.

I’ve been here before. The memories (and wiring) run deep now.

Instead of dread or panic, I picked up a large, pretty piece of sandstone and carried it back in my arms – a symbol of taking ownership of my attitude.

Claiming that freedom in the midst of pain changes everything.

Admittedly a little delirious, I laughed and sang the rest of the way, and then took a much-needed cold shower (cold was also the only option).

When we encounter and reckon with our beliefs about our limits, we find ourselves.

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