The Homeostasis of a Porter


A number of years ago, I hiked the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu. I thought I was pretty cool because I hiked the whole thing in my sandals and moved along at a good clip in comparison to other gringos.

But I was rarely quicker than the porters who carried pounds of equipment and food on their backs, all wearing sandals far less technologically crafted than mine. Their sandals are made from discarded tire treads.

The porters not only lug around everyone else’s stuff, but they then set up the camp and cook the food. And sleep all together on the ground in the main tent.

Their calves are like steel, and their mere presence neatly undercuts any fleeting grandiousness a gringo may feel for trudging up a mountainous pass. Porters literally run up and down tiny, steep ancient stairs carved into rock, as you can see in the photo above.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I recently read a book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, and the following passage made me harken back to those porters:

“The reason most people don’t possess … extraordinary physical abilities isn’t because they don’t have the capacity for them, but rather because they’re satisfied to live in the comfortable rut of homeostasis and never do the work that is required to get out of it. They live in the world of ‘good enough.”

For a porter, homeostasis is constant physical activity that is extreme for most people.

What is your homoeostasis? And in what way is it either softening or steeling you for infinity?