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Comfort Pendulum

No longer are we westerners pioneering and surviving. Those born pre internet, have grandparents who can speak of survival & recall with vivid detail the struggles of growing up with an outhouse, drawing water from a well and dust bowls.  

They worked hard and lived hard. My grandfather had a total of 4 moms before he was 15. His father was not changing wives on purpose, but because they died over and over and over again. He grew up in the alps of Switzerland on a small farm house. When I asked him what he did for fun as a boy and teenager, he laughed and said, “Fun? ha! We made work fun.” This man was a bricklayer into his 80’s. 

Two generations removed, a friend said he couldn’t go on an extended vacation because he can’t trust his 21 year old son to feed the dog or take the trash cans to the curb. 

I’m on a plane as I write this. An obese man, too young to carry a cane, wears a tee shirt with a picture of a football, baseball, basketball and a remote, with the words, ” I only want watch sports on days that end in”Y.”  

A cultural shift has occurred that is killing us, and it’s time push back. 

Comfort & ease has become god. The path of least resistance is celebrated, and it’s costing us our lives. We are unaware fogged by our endless stimulation, pleasures, comforts, safety nets, consuming. We come home from work, turn on the TV, flip through Instagram, pour a drink, pop a pill, indulge in the most accessible comfort that will distract us from being present. We are lonely, but unwilling to invest in people because it’s too hard, takes too much time, or we’re just scared. Scared of really being known. We want intimacy but it’s easier to watch a romantic comedy. We hurt, but bury it because we don’t have others to sit with us in our hurt, probably because we’ve never sat with others in their hurt. Living in community isn’t necessary for survival anymore. We think we can survive on our own, and we can physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and relationally, we are slowly dying. 

The assumption is it will get better. We want change, but change isn’t comfortable or easy, and since our entire lives are bent toward comfort, we do nothing. 

I am flying back from visiting family in Maui, and yes, it is a painful and depressing place to have to visit family.  Every year my brother in laws & I plan a camping trip away, usually in the back jungles of Hana. Last year we backpacked for miles over bloodthirsty lava rock, into the crater of Haleakala.  This year we took a ferry to Lanai, rented a 4×4 jeep from a hippie named Mike, and rallied down Sahara like terrain, to a long desolate coastline in search of a secret summertime surf spot. It was hot, dusty, and we were all bloody from thorny kiawe trees that offered some shelter from the sun. We were alone. The empty beaches and Lake Tahoe like waters rendered us silent in wonder. Not a soul was in sight.  We would need to catch fish for all 5 of us to eat. The reef did not disappoint, and we came back with an overwhelming catch from our dive. 

The surf destination was another test of will. Where the road ended, the trail began.  The kiawe tree is a dense, mesquite wood that is amazing for cooking over, but it does not surrender itself easily.  The trail to our break weaved through branches and limbs covered in 1 to 2 inch long sharp spikes.  The thorns are known to poke thru soles of shoes into your foot.  Not a leg or arm came away unscathed. The salt water was a rude reminder of the journey to the break, which in a sick way made the surf experience better. 

The session cost us something. We bled for it, and though the waves were under head high, they will be remembered for many years. My brothers and I shared an experience that we kept pinching ourselves over, and very few ever get to enjoy the fruits of self imposed trial, hardship and risk. 

90+ percent of visitors to Lanai enjoy the pleasures and comforts of the Four Seasons Resort. There is a time and place for that kind of rest, and I don’t fault anyone for choosing that experience, but when the “Four Seasons Experience” becomes your standard, something dies in you. A successful friend recently shared with me that all his senses have numbed. He can’t smell any more. Elegant food is bland. He self diagnosed the cause as overindulgence; every hotel room is the penthouse, every meal is a 5 course culinary wonder.  His standards have risen to such a level that the best money can buy doesn’t satisfy, and in fact has left him feeling numb. 

He is not abnormal, just aware. If you have a refrigerator and car, you are in the top 5 percent most wealthy in the world. Watching television has replaced watching the sunset.  Microwaved, prepackaged food has robbed us the experience of watching our food grow.  Yeah, it’s harder and less convenient, but what has been lost by not at least putting our comforts and convenience in question? 

I challenge you to look around and ask yourself what is everyone else doing, and do the opposite. My daughter and I look forward to the rain, because that means we are going for a jog. I use cold water when I shower. My workouts are on the beach with friends instead of the gym. I chose to occasionally not eat food a few days, just to be reminded that my stomach and desires don’t have the last say.

If you feel numb, alone, anxious, entitled, depressed, I implore you to try something different that costs you something, physically. Put a little risk and discomfort in your life. Do it with others, and let’s see if we can push this pendulum a bit.




Assumption of the Risk: I am aware that there are significant risks involved in all aspects of physical training.  I understand that the reaction of the heart, lungs and vascular system to exercise cannot always be predicted with accuracy.  I understand that there is a risk of certain abnormal changes occurring during or following exercise, which may include abnormalities of blood pressure or heart rate; chest, arm, or leg discomfort;  transient light-headedness or fainting; and in rare instances, heart attack, stroke, or even death.  I should look for any signs out of the ordinary,  including but not limited to excessive soreness, darkened urine, and pain in the kidney areas in the days following a workout. While this type of injury is very rare, it can occur due to many factors that may be beyond the control of PURSUIT/ Garden Church. I understand that the programs and classes offered by PURSUIT are of a nature and kind that are extremely strenuous and can/may push me to the limits of my physical ability.  These risks include, but are not limited to falls which can result in serious injury or death, injury or death due to negligence on the part of myself or other people around me, injury or death due to improper use or failure of equipment.  I am aware that any of these above-mentioned risks may result in serious injury or death to myself and/or others.  

I willingly assume full responsibility for any and all risks that I am exposing myself to as a result of my participation in PURSUITS’ programs and classes and accept full responsibility for any injury or death that may result from participation in any activity, class, or physical fitness program.    

Liability Release: I fully understand that my personal exercise program may be strenuous and I choose to participate voluntarily. I accept all responsibility for my health and any results, injury, or mishaps that may affect my well-being or health in any way. I waive any claims, demands,  causes of action, or any claims for relief whatsoever against, and release PURSUIT (as well Zac Ernst, Garden Church and its owners, employees, or other authorized agents, including independent contractors) from any and all liability, claims and/or causes of action that I may have for injuries or other damages, arising out of participation in PURSUITs’ activities, including, but not limited to the programs and classes. 

I agree that PURSUIT is in no way responsible for the safekeeping of my personal belongings while I attend its programs and classes. I understand that programs and classes at PURSUIT may be physically strenuous and I voluntarily participate in them with full knowledge that there is a risk of personal injury, property loss, or death. I agree that neither I, my heirs, assigns or legal representatives will sue or make any other claims of any kind whatsoever against PURSUIT or its members for any personal injury, property damage or loss, or wrongful death, whether caused by my negligence or otherwise.    

Description of Potential Risks: I understand that no exercise program is without inherent risks regardless of the care taken by an instructor and that my personal safety cannot be guaranteed by my instructor. I realize that when participating in any exercises, particularly those that induce cardiovascular stress, muscular endurance, strength building, and other fitness activities, there is a chance of serious injury, including but not limited to bruises, musculoskeletal strains, and sprains, more serious injuries including but not limited to heart attack, stroke, muscle tears, herniated disks, torn rotator cuffs, or other cardiovascular injuries, or catastrophic injuries including but not limited to death and paralysis.   

Participant Responsibilities: If Participant is able to answer affirmatively to any of the following questions, please consult a physician prior to any  involvement in PURSUITs’ programs and classes:   

  1. Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should perform physical activity recommended by a physician?  
  2. In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?  
  3. Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?   
  4. Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?  
  5. Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs for your blood pressure or heart condition?   
  6. Do you know of any reason why you should not engage in physical activity?   

I understand that it is my responsibility to:  

  1. Fully disclose any health issues or medications that are relevant to participation in a strenuous exercise program to the instructor;
  2. Cease exercise and report promptly any unusual feelings (e.g., chest discomfort, nausea, difficulty breathing, apparent injury, etc.) during  the exercise program; and
  3. Clear my participation with my physician.   

Participant Acknowledgments: Agreeing to this exercise program, I acknowledge that my participation is completely voluntary. I understand the potential physical risks involved in the exercise program and believe that the potential benefits outweigh those risks. I give consent to certain physical touching that may be necessary to ensure proper technique and body alignment. I understand that the achievement of health and fitness goals cannot be guaranteed. I have had a voice in planning and approving the activities I have chosen to participate in. I have been able to ask questions regarding any concerns I might have, and have had those questions answered to my satisfaction. I am in good physical condition,                                       

I have no impairment which might prevent my participation in such activities, and have been advised to consult a physician prior to beginning this program. I have been advised to cease exercise immediately if I experience unusual discomfort and feel the need to stop. I have read and understood the above release; I have been able to ask questions regarding any concerns I might have; I have had those questions answered to my satisfaction.

I understand that my medical history is a very important factor in the development of my fitness/wellness program. I understand that certain medical or physical conditions which are known to me, but which I do not disclose to PURSUIT may result in serious injury to me.  If any of the above conditions change, I will immediately inform PURSUIT of those changes. I, knowingly, and willingly, assume all risk of injury resulting from my failure to disclose accurate, complete, and updated information in accordance with this release.   

I hereby certify that I know of no medical problems that would increase my risk of illness and injury as a result of participation in a fitness program designed by PURSUIT.  With my full understanding of the above information, I agree to assume any and all risks associated with my participation in PURSUIT programs and classes.

I acknowledge that I have voluntarily chosen to participate in a program of progressive physical exercise. I acknowledge being informed of the strenuous nature of the program and the potential for unusual but possible, physiological results including, but not limited to, abnormal blood pressure, rhabdomyolysis, fainting, heart attack, paralysis, or death. By signing this document, I assume all risk for my health and well-being and hold PURSUIT, Garden Church, as well as Zac Ernst, other owners, employees, and authorized agents, including independent contractors, harmless therefrom. I understand that questions about exercise procedures and recommendations are encouraged and welcome.           

Indemnification: I recognize that there is risk involved in the types of activities offered by PURSUIT. Therefore, I accept financial responsibility for any injury that I may cause either to myself or to any other participant due to his/her negligence. Should the above-mentioned parties, or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney’s fees and costs to enforce this agreement, I agree to reimburse them for such fees and costs. 

I further agree to indemnify and hold harmless PURSUIT, Garden Church, Zac Ernst, owners, agents, employees, independent contractors, and volunteers from liability for the injury or death of any person(s) and damage to property that may result from my negligent or intentional act or omission while participating in activities offered by PURSUIT.  

I have carefully read this Agreement and fully understand its contents. I am aware that this is a release and waiver of liability and sign it knowingly, voluntarily, and of my own free will.