Hunting for Something Awful (As All Men Should)

The pace of my heart quickened as the tempo of my steps struggled to remain in rhythm. I reached the summit only to realize that it was a false beacon of hope; the trail curved to my right, revealing yet another climb before relief could be found. It had been many months since I last ran this hill in summer’s heat and tasted the potent mix of salt from sweat and bitterness of pain.

Several miles later, the pain quickly fades when I reach home and enter the conditioned air. Cold water washes the bitter saltiness from my mouth, and without warning the thought comes to mind…

“That sucked.”

Before my mind can complete that thought, another comes… “I wonder when I can do it again.”

Why is it that running, climbing, and fumbling over rocky trails make me feel alive? Why is it that leaving the security and comfort of modern living and choosing to make my home in the backcountry for a week is so reviving to my soul?  Why is it that waking in darkness, hiking in darkness, and spending hours in wait for a mere second to shoot is so satisfying?

Why is it that doing hard, sometimes even miserable things is so life-giving?

It should be that comfort, convenience, and security make me feel my best. But my daily life – which is overflowing with these great gifts of modern times – often leaves me restless.

Ease is seductive, but never satisfies.

Why is it that we – those of us reading this screen from comfortable conditions, on technological equipment that wasn’t even an object to be dreamt of a few decades ago, surrounded by toys and trinkets that costs thousands – why is it that we are not fulfilled?

Part of the reason is because we have spent our lives avoiding Something Awful. We medicate ourselves with busyness and noise, in an attempt to forget that he exists. Instead of facing him, this Something Awful, we hide in the darkness of comfort.

Something Awful?

In The Heroic Path, John Sowers recalls his earliest memories of Something Awful…

“Even if I pulled the covers over my head and pretended to be asleep, Something Awful was still there. Waiting. Breathing its hot, rancid breath on the back of my neck. As a boy, whenever I got out of bed, I never just stepped off. I leaped for dear life, trying to get several feet of distance. The last thing you want is some Creeper grabbing your ankle. Then you’re toast.”

Something Awful can take on many forms. Most assuredly, Sowers explains, “[Something Awful] growls at us and makes us wonder if we can take the next step. He makes us question if we’re even men at all.”

Something Awful is the thing the makes you doubt yourself; the thing that you fear. He is what convinces you that ease is better than the struggle. He is the thing that drives you to seek comfort, but continual comfort isn’t satisfying, it’s numbing.

Turning to face Something Awful head-on might be a risk, but what’s more fool hearted is turning our back and pretending that he’s not lurking.

To come alive is to face Something Awful. And if we do, we will realize that he is a liar. We learn that we are stronger than we thought. We see that life doesn’t exist in conditioned cubicles of comfort. We will recognize that, unless we have lived a life that exhausts our body, mind, and soul, relaxation doesn’t bring rest – only restlessness and boredom.

Confronting Something Awful may mean getting off the couch, putting down the beer, and running. Literally running. It might mean committing to pursue that dream you have, yet fear. Facing him might make you realize that you are wasting your life chasing trinkets to impress someone that doesn’t really care. (Because they, too, are just another hamster on the wheel.)

Waging war against Something Awful isn’t only about proving you to yourself; it is about displaying our value and strength for other’s benefit. To truly wage war against Something Awful we must fight for our family, friends, and neighbors.  Sometimes in my life it is simply having the courage to set aside what I want to do – what I “should be doing” – and wrestle with my son, or let my daughter paint my fingernails instead.  (True story.)

Let us not be men that watch movies of great struggles, but fail to lead lives that mirror the same story. Let us not sing songs of victory just because we make some money, purchase more toys, or lead lives of selfish adventure.  The hero – in story and in life – is the one that confronts Something Awful, discovers strength and courage, and cares for those around him.

Get off the couch. Ditch the excuses. Stop living your life as a surrogate of another man’s story that you’ve seen in the movies, watched on TV, or (God forbid!) followed on Facebook.

Do hard things. Do good things. Defeat Something Awful.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • 365Whitetail

    Great post, Mark! Thanks for sharing. (I need a Sole Adventure branded shirt with the words, “Do hard things. Do good things. Defeat Something Awful.”)

    • SoleAdventure

      That could be a cool shirt!

  • Matt Mitchell

    This was a great upper for a midweek workday… Thanks Mark!

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for reading, Matt. May the weekend come soon!

  • Kurtis Baus

    “continual comfort isn’t satisfying, it’s numbing.”

    Probably one of the best things I have read in a while.

    • SoleAdventure

      You should read more. ;-) In all seriousness though, thank you.

  • Jake Huff

    Great article and great timing. The most difficult thing is accepting that you’re too comfortable and then changing it.

    • SoleAdventure

      Amen! It’s one thing to realize that you NEED to change, and it’s another to make it happen. Making the leap might be hard, but it always pays off.

  • Greg Baker

    This is inspiring truth in a culture that is intentionally trying to feminize males and sing a siren song of passivity, laziness, and mediocrity. Thanks brother!

    • SoleAdventure

      I appreciate it, Greg. I agree with your sentiments, but also see signs of hope for manhood going forward. There’s much we need to do, and it starts with you…and me…

  • Aznealz

    Boy, this is a real pew squirmer. Something I apparently needed to read and hear… and act on. Thanks.

    • SoleAdventure

      Didn’t mean to make you sweat, Neal. Well, okay, maybe a little.

  • Steve

    Great post Mark! I can’t agree more with your comment, “continual comfort isn’t satisfying, it’s numbing.” For me, it’s a hard run, a hunt, or simply taking a moment to soak up the beauty of existence to jolt the numbness and bring clarity to the now. It’s in the those moments, I truly feel alive and ready to do battle with Something Awful.

    • SoleAdventure

      Exactly, Steve! Well put.

  • Hogarth

    I know the feeling! Age, heat and mosquitoes dogged my every step from 4500 to 7000 ft peak on my all day hike in full hunting regalia and pack. Got down and plunged into a lazy river. Next day, hitting the forest trails near my house. At age 57, it is a great feeling to commit to hunting and reinvent myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • SoleAdventure

      Nice work! I hope to be doing the same type of adventures when I reach 57. There some truth to what George Bernard Shaw said… “Youth is wasted on the young.”

  • ChasingtheHunt

    Really solid article. Thanks for producing such amazing content.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Nate!

  • Noel Bailey Stacey

    Good article. As a wife, I’m always happy to see things that build up men and husbands and fathers, rather than tearing them down like most tv shows do. Thanks for encouraging men to be men.

  • SoleAdventure

    I don’t mind at all…thank you for sharing!

    • mark

      I really think this is a wonderful article bc it speaks to so many aspects of the arduous journey we undertake pursuing a passion. Thanks for writing such an enjoyable piece.