Northlanders are no strangers to discipline, discoverySAM COOK: There is something inside most of us that makes us want to venture into unknown territory to attempt something we’re not sure we can do. Some of us respond to that pull, but many of us find ways to talk ourselves out of pursuing the goal before we ever begin.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Most nights lately, when I’m slipping into bed, I think of Hermantown’s Rudy Hummel, the 17-year-old who’s sleeping in his snow house every night.
Rudy is on a personal quest to sleep outside every night for a year. He started June 7.
Rudy’s story has proven compelling. A couple of Twin Cities television crews were up recently to tell his story, and CNN sent a satellite truck to his home Wednesday to document his snowbound slumber streak.
Duluth’s recent stretch of 20-below-zero mornings added an element of cool to the story, but Rudy’s goal to wake up outdoors every day for a year gives the story its underlying appeal.
In many ways, Rudy’s undertaking is similar to others that we in the Northland have witnessed over the years. A select handful of our neighbors have skied or dogsledded to the North Pole. Lonnie Dupre of Grand Marais kayaked and dogsledded around Greenland. Dave and Amy Freeman of Grand Marais recently completed an 11,000-mile teaching expedition by kayak, canoe and dogsled.
Last fall, Ely’s Jason Zabokrtsky hiked and swam across the canoe country. Mike Link and Kate Crowley of Willow River hiked around Lake Superior a few summers ago.
A few birders set out to see how many species they can identify in a year. Cyclists bicycle across the country. Paddlers follow rivers to Hudson Bay.
Reaching some of these goals requires physical stamina, exceptional courage and years of preparation.
Others require primarily self-discipline, the support of friends and a blank spot on the calendar.
Most of the people who attempt these lofty challenges, I think, are looking for a way to add meaning and significance to something they already love. They ski. They run sled dogs. They climb or hike or ride, or they love watching birds.
There is something inside most of us that makes us want to venture into unknown territory to attempt something we’re not sure we can do. Some of us respond to that pull, but many of us find ways to talk ourselves out of pursuing the goal before we ever begin.
Rudy Hummel loves the outdoors and knows something about winter camping. He enjoyed sleeping in a tree all summer. When September came, he didn’t want to quit.
So, he found a way to keep sleeping out. Is his goal arbitrary? Sure. But it’s worthy to him, and that’s all that matters. He didn’t set out to become the poster boy for the polar vortex.
While some high achievers might be in it partly for ego, I think most, at heart, just want to tackle a big dream. They know they might risk frostbite or blisters or danger — or failure.
But I suspect that whether they achieve their goals or not — and most do — they learn things about themselves that they might otherwise never have discovered.
Rudy is just the latest in an impressive collection of people who were creative enough to conceive a dream and courageous enough to go after it.
Sleep on, Rudy.