How many beaver pelts can you carry?
Goggins is a legend. "Who's-going-to-carry-the-boats?!" IYKYK. +1 for raging against "normal".
"If we think someone like Goggins is a freak of nature, we won’t acknowledge that we are made of mostly the same genetic material as him, the voyageurs, and the monks. We don’t have to reach quite those levels, but aiming at 25-50% of them seems reasonable. "
Love this. I've been thinking about this concept a lot, since I like to a lot of physically "hard" stuff. Often, when one of those things comes up in conversation, someone will say "that's amazing, how did you do that!?" I'd be hesitant to answer like this to most people, but the answer is really just "I did."
It might take a little work, a little training (or a lot!) -- but almost anyone should be able to lift heavy stuff, walk (or run) for long distances, or draw back a 70# bow. Granted most people aren't currently physically fit enough to those things off the couch, but they can certainly get there. They're not insurmountable challenges, reserved for the fittest of the fit. The biggest hurdle is mental -- wanting or feeling the need to do them!
Modern society makes life "easier" than ever -- but, maybe, for our health, that's not necessarily a good thing?
Uncommon amongst the uncommon
Great read! I must admit that I did have some thoughts of the Voyager stats being "tall tales" - wouldn't be the first time that facts have been editorialized in history. But even if the numbers are exaggerated, the theme of the article is spot on.
Today's mainstream society is so soft, and seemingly getting less active with each generation. A return to a much more physical life, with less reliance on modern comforts would benefit us greatly. You focussed more on the physical benefits, but the mental, emotional and other effects would also be elevated.
Thanks for the reminder to keep raising the bar and to not look at the "norm" as normal!
This article reminds me of a question I asked myself this weekend: In what areas of my life am I playing to win?
It's so easy in work and life to do the bare minimum to get by. Life is far more meaningful when we stretch ourselves. Or as you put is, see what we're capable of. Great article!
Brings to mind "misogi" from Michael Easter's book.
I'd be curious to know, what're you doing to put this idea into practice in your own life? Or is it too hard?
Clearly there are case reports of some (some) people doing these things (just as you reference an individual from today). But to suggest that the median person from back then could lug hundreds of pounds across wilderness is likely counterfactual. General health was much worse hundreds of years ago, lifespans on average, much shorter.
I really like to read your posts! On this post I needed a lbs kg converter!
Humans became this strong because they had to, for physical and economic survival. I’m not really sure what you are suggesting in this article because our everyday activities, our work, and our survival will not make (most of) us strong as a by-product. We would need to turn getting strong into a leisure activity, another thing to feel we need to do, achieve, spend money on and take up our time. To achieve that amount of strength as a hobby or fitness routine would be a massive commitment that most of us just can’t make - those folks had simpler lives. I get that it is entirely within normal human limits to be strong, but just being fit enough to run for a bus or do a downward dog or a days gardening is just fine, and a better goal for 99% of us!
This can be explained largely by the shift away from humans performing primarily physical labor toward more sedentary, cognitive-based work. This began with the rise of agriculture and the industrial revolution and accelerated with the information revolution. Our ancestors had to put in strenuous physical effort on a regular basis just to survive. So the average person in a tribe of hunter-gatherers had to have a certain minimum level of strength and endurance to keep up.
Today, many of us have desk jobs where the only physical effort needed is the walk to the water cooler. We've turned to gyms and fitness studios to recreate the physical activity that used to be a built-in part of daily life.
That said, the average American is far healthier than our ancestors due to improved nutrition, vaccines and antibiotics. And forget about Goggins - our top athletes are unquestionably the best ever at their respective sports. Witness each new generation shattering records at track and field, swimming, etc.