Conquerors of the Useless

When you’ve invest a lot of time into something you really love, whether it’s a relationship, a project, a hobby, whatever… you need to take care of it. What I mean is that you need to make sure you don’t get sick of it as you pour in your time and energy. You have to take breaks to re-energize, which is why I spent last night watching a documentary rather than working on promoting Skate Across Indiana.

I can’t remember how I stumbled across it, but I ended up watching a film called 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless. It’s a film about a guy named Jeff, a writer who leaves his home to pursue his life-long dream to visit the Patagonian landscape in Chile. His desire is to rendezvous with adventurers Yvon Chouinard (founder of Black Diamond and Patagonia Clothing) and Doug Tompkins (founder of the North Face) on their wilderness preserve. The whole goal of the trip is to climb a peak called Corcovado and mimic a similar journey Yvon and Doug took in the 1960’s.

conquerers of the useless

I’ll spare you the details of most of the film, but the gist of it is that Jeff takes a sailboat down to Chile from Ventura, CA and makes a stop on Easter Island in the South Pacific. He eventually gets to Patagonia after almost 4 months, but the whole point of the journey is to experience something unique and different. Jeff could have easily flown to Chile and done the Patagonia climb  in a matter of days but he chose to make and adventure out of it. There’s a quote by Yvon in the movie that I think captured the spirit of true adventure. He said: “It’s kind of like the quest for the holy grail… who gives a shit about what the holy grail is, it’s the quest that’s important. The transformation is within yourself, that’s what’s important.”

Finding the balance between enjoying the journey and thinking end game can be difficult. I know I have a hard time with it at times because I’m so goal-driven. My “full steam ahead” approach can keep me from experiencing that transformation that Yvon talked about. Furthermore, the end result of journey, whether it’s climbing a peak or crossing a state on a skateboard is absolutely useless. It’s not tangible and I can’t do anything with it…. basically I conquered something useless. Saying that I did X isn’t really much of anything when there’s not a story behind it and a transformation to make it meaningful.

With that being said, I’m looking forward to the journey that Skate Across Indiana will end up being. I’m looking forward to making memories and coming away with a story to tell. I can’t wait to experience that transformation Yvon talks about and I can’t wait to become a conqueror of the useless.

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