Pioneer Spirit

You may die of dysentery

Crazyass passion is the staple of life and persistence its nourishing force.

Last week we were on a cross-country flight and … the wifi went out. Anxiety rose, quickly. We had planned to spend that time catching up on emails! How could this possibly happen to us?! To add insult to injury, the video system was also out! Could this day get any worse? Were we going to have to sit, perhaps for hours, just… reading a book?!?!

Thankfully, the system just needed a reset, so we were unconnected for at most 20 minutes before we were able to log in and get some work done. Whew. However, somewhere in the middle of our twenty minutes of doing nothing, we absentmindedly started thinking about pioneers, since we recently read Lonesome Dove and watched 1883.

It struck us that while this flight would take us at most six hours, not that long ago traversing this route would have taken us – at best – six months, and one of us would probably not have made it at all. As readers of a certain age will remember, somewhere along the way we’d have died of exhaustion, cholera, typhoid, snakebite, fever, drowning, measles, dysentery, or broken arm/leg. IYKYK.

In the real-life Oregon Trail, it took four to six months to cross a 2,000-mile route from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. From History.com:

“Many settlers looked at the Oregon Trail with an idealistic eye, but it was anything but romantic. According to the Oregon California Trails Association, almost one in ten who embarked on the trail didn’t survive. Most people died of diseases such as dysentery, cholera, smallpox, or flu, or in accidents caused by inexperience, exhaustion, and carelessness. It was not uncommon for people to be crushed beneath wagon wheels or accidentally shot to death, and many people drowned during perilous river crossings.”

Those pioneers were a different breed. They faced unthinkable hardships… and they kept going. As the author of The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, Rinker Buck wrote “sometimes you’re doing quite a lot by not doing anything. You’re not quitting. You just keep going. That’s the pioneer spirit.”

Contemplating this, our wifi outage experience made us recall an old video of Louis C.K. titled Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy:

“I was on an airplane and there was high-speed internet.. It’s fast, I’m watching YouTube clips, I’m on an airplane. It breaks down, they apologize and the guy next to me to goes “phfft, this is bullshit”. Like how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago. Flying is the worst one because people come back from their flights and tell you their horror story…. it was the worst day of my life. First of all, we didn’t board for twenty minutes, and then we got on the plane, and they made us sit there, on the runway for forty minutes. Oh really, what happened next, did you fly through the air incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you noncontributing zero? You’re flying! It’s amazing! Everybody in every plane should be constantly going “oh my God, wow!’. You’re sitting in a chair IN THE SKY!”

The definition of a pioneer is “a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.” We’ve never done anything remotely as difficult as experiencing even one day on the Oregon Trail and we are probably not going to die of dysentery or snakebite. While we are certainly not the first in the space of small business acquisitions, we do believe we are doing something unique, and feel the excitement of forging our own path. Wifi freakout aside, we strive to keep that pioneer spirit alive and well at Chenmark so we can cross the proverbial trail. As Ricker Buck noted, “Crazyass passion is the staple of life and persistence its nourishing force. Without them, you cannot cross the trail.” Maybe that 20 minutes without wifi wasn’t so bad after all.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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