In my effort to learn more about veganism, and specifically about running while vegan, I reached out to a friend from a past workplace who has been vegan for a long time, and who just finished the New York City Marathon, to ask him if he had recommendations for what to read and listen to as I set out on this journey. He recommended a ton of great resources (I’ll make a separate post with the full list and links soon, I promise), and I’ve jumped in head-first. One of the resources he recommended was Rich Roll’s podcast. For those of you who don’t know, Rich Roll is a vegan ultra-athlete who competes in amazing endurance events like the UltraMan (a three-day, 320 mile triathlon) and ultramarathons. He’s basically a vegan badass, and I’m very much looking forward to getting caught up on his podcasts, and to tackling his book at some point in the near future.
Now, I imagine the less neurotic among us, when tuning in to a new podcast, might start with the most recent episode (or at least something somewhat recent), especially when the podcast – like Rich’s – isn’t progressive in nature (meaning you don’t have to have tuned in from episode one to follow along). Not me. I do things in order, even when it’s totally unnecessary and more time-consuming. So I started listening to Rich’s podcast at the earliest episode available through iTunes. And who did he feature? Robin Arzon.
Robin Arzon is an ultramarathoner, a brand consultant, a magazine publisher, a cycling instructor and running coach, a self-proclaimed “ambassador of sweat,” and basically, an all-around badass.* Her tagline – “Do epic shit” – is a perfect summary of where I’ve lately been hoping to take my life, and this blog. Even more saliently (for me, anyway), she’s a former corporate lawyer who found a way to ditch her job and basically write and run for a living. In listening to the 90+ minute conversation between Rich and Robin on his podcast, I had SO. MANY. MOMENTS. when my heart was screaming “YES THIS!!! THIS THIS THIS!!!!” that I think I’ll likely be blogging about “shit Robin said” in one capacity or another for a good long time. I felt a deeply personal connection to Robin’s story, for many reasons (that will likely eventually warrant their own posts), and I’m so inspired by her that I had to take today’s post to unpack her tagline.
Do. Epic. Shit.
What does it mean? Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean – I don’t think it means that we have to run out and climb Mount Everest, or sign up for an Iron Man, or quite our jobs to go live on an ashram in India, or undertake whatever other massive and extreme projects we can come up with. Instead, I think it means that we should strive to do things that are important to us, things that excite us, things that we’re going to be proud to tell stories about around the nursing home when we’re 90. That slightly-dying feeling we (and by “we,” clearly I mean “I”) get every time someone asks “what do you do?” and we have to talk about our corporate drone jobs? That’s a sign that we’re not doing epic shit. Doing epic shit, to me, is ultimately about being our most authentic selves.
Doing epic shit is about training for a 5K, or a 10K, or a half- or full marathon, or going to yoga every day for a month, or meditating every day, or joining a Cross-fit gym, or starting a blog, even though it’s hard to find the time. Doing epic shit is about making lifestyle changes that we believe in, even though it’s easier to just follow the herd. Doing epic shit is about doing things that matter to us, without getting caught up in what everyone else thinks or says or does. Maybe your version of “doing epic shit” is making partner at an AmLaw100 law firm, or becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Maybe your version of “doing epic shit” is raising kids to be good citizens of this country and our planet. Maybe your version of “doing epic shit,” like Robin’s or Rich’s, is finding a way to become a beacon for others who want to live a life of health and wellness and general badassery.
The important part of doing epic shit isn’t the specific nature of the shit we’re doing – the important part is that what we’re doing feels epic to us, personally. Warren Buffet is doing epic shit like a boss, but for me? I’d rather set myself on fire than be him, because I’m not wired like him, and the things he’s accomplished – while totally amazing – are not accomplishments I aspire to achieve for myself. If we’re going to do epic shit, we have to take the time to develop our own definition of what the most epic version of our own lives looks like.
I’ll be honest – I haven’t fully formed a picture of my own most epic life yet. I know writing is a part of it (hence, the existence of this blog), and I know health and wellness is a part of it (hence, the subject matter of this blog), but I don’t quite know what it’s all adding up to. But that’s the beautiful thing about living life with the goal of doing epic shit – I don’t have to have a huge life-plan. All I have to do, when I’m faced with a choice, is choose the option that feels the most epic (even if it’s only a little bit “epic,” like choosing to go to my first meditation class ever Thursday night, or choosing to get up at 5am yesterday morning so that I’d have time to both work out and blog, or choosing not to eat the birthday cake in the break room yesterday because the cake’s not vegan and I’ve decided I am). String enough epic choices together, and what will I have? Hopefully, a truly epic life.
So, a huge thanks to my friend for turning me on to Rich’s podcast, and to Rich for featuring Robin, and to Robin for, well, being Robin. Go forth and do epic shit.
*FYI: “Badass” is pretty much the highest compliment I can pay in my lexicon, so expect to see it a lot when I’m talking about people who inspire me.