I remember talking to my mom before I had moved to Norway about certain ambitions that were playing in my mind. To which her motherly instinct of protective nature rose to the surface.
“You don't have to do anything extreme, Sim. You don't need to do those things to prove anything to anyone.” She's right in the sense I don't have to prove anything to anyone, I do however things to prove to myself. That's not the point though, it showed a gap in perspective I couldn't put my finger on before.
A standard western life is as far from extreme as it can get. Which in my view has atrophied the understanding of what the real extreme is. The way I see it our perception of extreme and it's atrophy is a three headed beast.
First: Anything you see on Youtube now was beyond extreme decades ago. Extreme athletes have been pushing boundaries without mercy.
The second: Those athletes clearly show that we have not found the edge of extreme, not just in sports, but in our own physicality. (For more info on my first and second point read: Rise of the Superman, by Steven Kotler)
Third: because of our boxes of comfort keeping shrinking around us, everything is regarded extreme.
When I've promoted fasting for a few days that has been met with some mixed reactions. There's nothing extreme about a two day fast if you're a healthy human being. If you're pushing thirty days, now we're getting extreme. Even though there's clinical records of fasting done for much longer than that. So what's extreme then? How about running? Is running a marathon extreme? What of the Ultra Runs and multi day races, they range from 100km to a staggering +1600km. What of Wim Hof: running a marathon in the arctic in nothing but shorts. Setting world records in cold exposure. I could go on and on.
I'm not stating you should do any of these. All I'm trying to do is to convey a perspective on extremes. Because knowing that some people fast for long duration or run for an insane amount of time it pushes what is the norm for our definition of extreme.
I think the example that really put things in perspective for me was when a former superior noted that my and my girlfriend's lifestyle is extreme. Was I to infer that taking care of ourselves through diligence with nutrition and solid training is extreme? Am I the crazy one? What's going on here? That's a great example on how far we've strayed collectively to strive for something more. It also degrades my lifestyle standard. It's not extreme when that's the way it's supposed to be. With that I mean: a healthy lifestyle should be the norm, not the reverse.
There's reason to be cautious about the extremes, a healthy fear would do, if your life is on the line. Even without your life being at stake, pushing from something that might be regarded as extreme only pushes you to new highs. Chances are the high it will create can cause deep lows, that's why it's called the extremes. I don't mean that as in the hormonal cocktail that get's released that is regarded as a high. I mean a high point in your life. A life lived to the monotone beat of societies drum, with the opportunities of this age, is a death sentence. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. The cliché take away might be that if someone comments on the extremeness of your thoughts, intentions or actions: you are on to something. As for me: I'm not done with exploring those extremes, sorry mom.