Friday, September 8, 2023

Least Adventurous Adventurers

I work in adventure gaming. I think that best describes a trade where we sell games about exploring dungeons, fighting space bugs, battling wizards, and settling imaginary lands (my four store categories). We sell adventure, but we sell it as fantasy. Most of our customers are not going on adventures; most people don't go on adventures. Actual adventure is a bit repulsive to quite a few of my peers. Retailers seem least likely to go, due to constraints of time and money, and deep immersion into the games we sell. Adventure is often the trip to the next trade show.

My retailer peers fit into a couple fitness groups, those whose health you worry about: obese men, mostly, who you see at trade shows, huffing and puffing as they make their way to the next presentation. I have been known to huff or puff on occasion at a trade show. We worry greatly about these folks, and when they pass at a young age, we are sad but not surprised.

We also have those who devote significant energy into not being in the first group, including some fitness gurus who you'll find at the hotel gym at 6am. It's a sedentary hobby, and rebelling against an early grave is natural. We are chained to a counter and eat whatever (often cold, often fast) food we have available. I did this for nine years before I broke the chain. I use the example of the baby circus elephant, where they put a dinky chain on its leg and it learns it can't pull against it. When it's an adult, it's conditioned not to try. I needed someone to tell me I could break the chain before I could free myself.

I've struggled to keep weight off for years, to the point of hurting myself exercising. After I had the store recovered from COVID, I time where I hand delivered games to customers doors and worked long hours as the sole employee (an adventure for sure), I became an overweight, sedentary slob. I had a mental shut down and was just done for a while. I had no time to process worldwide pandemic, the death of friends and relatives and the imminent demise of my business, at the time it was happening. At my lowest point, I hurt my back from just sleeping wrong and struggled to get out of bed. 

My response was to throw myself into a fitness program, deciding I would get in shape, even if it killed me; and it nearly did. I lost 30 pounds the first year, but then hurt my back. I have a friend who did the same recently, and we both struggle with back injuries because of our over exuberance working out. At middle age, you need to be more careful when it comes to these things. We need more calculated, gradual fitness improvement, probably with professional assistance. But fitness or death, is not an unusual response at middle age it seems. Our self images are not easily discarded. Being told you're not fit to go on the adventure is not acceptable.

Our characters are exploring continents, while we struggle to move our bodies a minimal amount. They wield broad sword, while my arms get sore from wrenching on my trailer. This came into clearer focus on my recent trip. We were gone for four months, so a lifestyle emerged. I should mention for someone with a more active lifestyle, like my buddy, this was nothing, but for me, it was nothing short of an adventure.

While in Mexico, I failed to hit my "step goal" most day. This bothered me for a while, until I realized I was losing weight and getting stronger. Our life of adventure, setting up camp, tearing down, cooking and cleaning, and exploring 35 towns, a couple mega cities, and a dozen ruins, didn't conform to my exercise regimen. I did a lot of store work on my laptop, but it seemed every other moment of the day was about preparing for the next thing. The food wasn't always great, but it rarely left me feeling awful like the food back home. It didn't seem healthier, often just simple ingredients, but my health seemed to be improving. I wasn't the only one.

However, my son was not happy during much of this trip, as it dragged him away from his adventure gaming online. His online adventures were taking a back seat to climbing Aztec pyramids and exploring 3,000 year old villages. He has his own health and fitness struggles, so he preferred his adventure in a darkened room with friends.

My realization this morning is all these artificial fitness and exercise routines are, for me, about being prepared for real world adventure. I don't always climb Aztec pyramids, but when I do, I want to be able to without having to ramp up my fitness before I go. The oddity of being upset because I was missing my fitness goals while doing the thing, was lost on me until recently. I was hitting the fitness goals in order to go on the adventure. 

I now have to put up or shut up. I continue that lifestyle or I fall back into "training mode." I don't want to become the retailer slug of the past. Lacking another town to explore, I plot out my step goals for the day. I look around and wonder where the next adventure will come from, the elusive active lifestyle. I wonder when I can hook up that trailer again and head off into the unknown, to regain that lifestyle again. The goal is to take a wonderful experience like this and use it to transform your life. Until then, I've got a new D&D campaign to prepare for.

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