Kyle: I don’t need anything that casts a shadow. Yeah. No. I think that that’s a great point, and the way that an animal has lived certainly has an effect on, I think, the ethics of it before it dies.
Chris: And I wonder that old adage, “You are what you eat,” sometimes I wonder about all the cruelty that we eat, the disregard, that lack of any sort of respect for this sacredness of another living thing. We eat that.
Ben: I have a master’s degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I’ve spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet from SEALFit Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and the world’s toughest mudder, the 13 Ironman triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world’s top experts in performance, fat loss, recovery, hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
Oh well, hello. I guess I should say aloha, because this whole freaking podcast is brought to you by the great islands of Hawaii. I went down to Hawaii. I was hunting down there. I was with a lot of really good people, and a few of us sat down and recorded a podcast episode. What you’re about to hear is a podcast episode recorded at the very end of a long harrowing day of hunting. We were exhausted. There’s background noise of some of the folks still dressing meat and cleaning coolers. But myself, my friend, Kyle Thiermann, author, Chris Ryan, and also an amazing spear fisherman and big wave surfer named Mark Healey sat down and chatted pretty long for about two, two and a half hours.
At one point, I ducked out to use the restroom and call my wife and kids then came back. And so, you’ll actually be listening to some banter that occurred in my absence. But it’s a pretty good show. We delved into a lot of different topics from the ethics of hunting to nutrition, to environmental sustainability, to a lot of the very interesting pieces of knowledge that the guys like Kyle Thiermann and Chris Ryan and Mark Healey have. So, I think this is going to be a really, really enjoyable episode for you. I’ll tag all these guys in the show notes as well. If you want to go check out them, their social media, their shows, et cetera, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Hawaii. That’s BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Hawaii where you can find the show notes.
I should also mention to you before you jump in and listen to this show that there are two rooms left in the epic retreat that I’m leading over in Switzerland in late June at a health retreat nestled up in the Swiss Alps there, where we’ll be doing hikes and all forms of European biological medicine, liver cleanses and hyperthermia, and yes, even enemas, holding hands, whistling some Swiss tune together, hovered near the toilet. No, you don’t have to hold my hand while you do your enema. But anyways, it’s actually going to be a very cool retreat. And you can get in on that if you go to the website of my friend, who is kind of organizing the whole thing. Her name is Robyn Openshaw. You got a greensmoothiegirl.com/bengreenfield. That’s greensmoothiegirl.com/bengreenfield to check that out. And again, like I mentioned, the show notes for the episode you’re about to listen to are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Hawaii.
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All right. Let’s go chat with the cats in Hawaii. Enjoy this episode. It’s a doozy. And again, the show notes were all at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Hawaii.
Kyle: And away we go, Ben Greenfield. It’s Chris Ryan in the house. Chris Ryan’s first trip to Hawaii. A rung full of men.
Chris: First of many things. First, the helicopter–
Ben: First, we dropped him off on Waikiki Beach, where the Japanese tourists were shopping for jeans, right? It’s got a nice coffee shop.
Chris: It was the best.
Kyle: Chris, in the first 18 hours of being in Hawaii, probably went to a spot that no one has ever been to.
Chris: No one man has ever set foot.
Ben: On the background, Chris got roped into a hunting trip, first trip to Hawaii, and how’d that feel, Chris, upon landing in Hawaii?
Chris: I like how you call it roped in, and I think of it as freeloading. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Ben: Somebody lost their spot.
Chris: Yeah. Somebody had already paid for their spot. The two Kyle’s actually asked if I wanted to do it, and So, I just swooped in here like a buzzard, and I’m eating the roadkill.
Kyle: And there was very little knowledge given to you about what was going to happen.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. Five days ago, you said to me, “Start working out and get in the condition.” Handshake. I have five days to do sit-ups. I was going to the bond, baby.
Kyle: Dude, I’m going to a festival right before this.
Chris: I was going to the Bombay Beach [00:08:00] ______, exactly.
Ben: Well, when Chris hold up from the airport, Kyle and I were just laid out half-naked in the back of the poke shack, some of the best poke on the islands. And he rolls in, we’re like, “Get in the truck. Let’s go.” So, Kyle Kingsbury and me and our guide down here, amazing guy Justin Lee, we take off and just head out for the middle of nowhere up in the mountains.
Chris: All wearing camouflage. I felt like I was joining a marine platoon about to go behind enemy lines. It’s the most intense dude-bro environment I’ve ever been in by far.
Ben: There’s a dead goat head in the back and an enormous cooler full of meat from pigs and sheep.
Chris: There’s a lot of bloodstain.
Ben: I’m trying to get Justin to drive kind of careful, So, the pig blood doesn’t mix with the sheep meat. And we arrived at the top of the cabin where we’ll be waiting for helicopters the next morning. And then we helicoptered to this remote spot. How were those first few hours for you, Chris?
Kyle: “Kyle, Chris, you do go together. Get in the chopper.”
Ben: Yeah. Do I smell meat?
Kyle: We’re at the top of this cliff–
Chris: Move, move, move.
Kyle: A thousand feet above the ocean and it’s a bog. There’s no level area for Chris to camp.
Chris: I know, and my tent is blowing away as I try to–
Kyle: Yeah. Chris brought a glamping tent. That’s good for like KOAs.
Ben: There’s no reception in the jungle, in a deep bog.
Kyle: I was like, “Chris is going to turn this into a great story.”
Chris: Somehow. Yeah. I’ll leave certain things out. I have a few things.
Kyle: I’m really sorry.
Chris: Let’s spice it up.
Ben: The funny part about this trip, which by the way is brought to you by this wonderful–
Chris: Laird Hamilton.
Ben: Laird Hamilton Superfood Creamer and our wonderful energy bars, the wrapped up little diabetes bars. This is So, good.
Chris: This has been like a trip that seems to be sponsored by like protein, organic wheat bars, and all of this cutting edge–
Ben: Yeah, compared to most other hunting trips I’ve been on that are Slim Jims and beef chili out–of–a–can and Frito-Lay–
Chris: This is pretty chichi.
Ben: I mean, we’re pretty good. Last night, everybody got dropped off in different place. So, Kyle Thiermann and Chris Ryan were on top of the mountain somewhere. I got dropped off on the beach because I was done hunting. I’d shot all the animals that I had wanted to hunt, and I don’t want to hunt more animals than I can actually eat. And So, I got dropped off with the wonderful Mark Healey, like one of the world’s best spear fisherman to teach me how to spear fish well for the weekend.
And we got dropped off on this beach where we still had a bag full of fresh axis deer venison, some of the best wild game meat on the face of the planet. We caught Hawaiian lobster. What are the names of the little shells that we got, Kyle?
Ben: We caught opihis which apparently are prime food that go for a pretty penny.
Kyle: Yeah. We’ll try and get Mark in here in a little bit. But yeah, opihis are great right along the shoreline.
Ben: Yeah, we cooked that opihis and then Manini fish, I think they were called, cooked them up over the coals. I skewered all the backstrap of the axis on a spearfishing skewer, spear fishing rod. Is it called a rod? I forget the name of the shaft.
Kyle: Spear? Shaft. Yes, the spearfishing is with the shaft of the gun.
Ben: I roasted the axis deer on my shaft.
Kyle: We have a lot of it when Ben roasted the axis deer.
Ben: We were talking after the meal. We’re like, “I don’t think you could actually buy this meal at any restaurant in the world because this stuff comes from So, many different locales.”
Ben: And this is prepared by half-naked men around a fire.
Chris: With hot shafts.
Kyle: Yeah. What Chris told me before this hunt is like in hunter-gatherer society, on a lot of hunts, they would bring a woman with them and have sex with them. So, I’ll just be the woman.
Chris: No, I didn’t say I’d be the woman. I told you that story in front of two women who were vehemently volunteering for the job. “I’ll go. Take me.” “No, no. Take me.” Put them on the chopper.
Kyle: Is it true? You might know this, Ben. Speaking of energy bars, is it true that if you are dying of dehydration, you should throw away any energy bars because it’ll dehydrate you more quickly?
Chris: If you’re starving.
Ben: It’s going to draw some water to the core. If you’re dehydrated to death, you’re probably also in a situation which you’re starving to death. So, it might not be a good idea to throw them out. I don’t think that they would dehydrate you. Where my mind goes is you could potentially use them as a water filter, because they are pretty thick. It could work.
Kyle: And then you could use an energy bar as a–
Ben: Yeah. I’m total MacGyver-ing here. It could work.
Chris: Like high pressure.
Ben: Since we had to survive on the beach for two hours just now waiting for the helicopters to pick us up, figuring out how to cook axis deer on a spearfishing shaft, my mind goes to that place using an energy bar as a filter. But no, I mean, it’s not going to dehydrate you. If anything, a lot of these bars and this is nature– I run a company that sells energy bars, and one of the issues that we run into with batches is you always have to have them analyzed for mold and fungi because there is moisture in the bar. So, I would imagine kind of like a cup of coffee or a can of beer actually does not, contrary to popular belief, dehydrate you because the liquids in those compounds are greater than the amount of dehydration that occurs in response to them. But I would imagine that an energy bar has enough moisture in it, So, it’s not going to aggravate dehydration.
Chris: Probably depends on salt content too, isn’t it?
Chris: Like if it’s a peanut butter–
Ben: Probably depends on the energy bar too because there’s moist and there’s very, very brittle dry energy bars like those–
Chris: Like a beef jerky.
Ben: The ones Costco used to sell, the old granola bars that I get by the caseload when I was in high school for tennis. They were like the cheapest energy bars you could find, the little green-wrapped granola bars, and they just crumble. I’m pretty sure those had no water content or mold.
Kyle: So, our guide told me a story just along the lines of how many animals there are out on these islands. There are wild cows. There are goats. There’s axis deer. He was telling me just about an hour ago that the island Kahoolawe, it was used as a bombing range for a long time–
Ben: Which I thought was thunder, by the way. Every time I’ve been in Hawaii up until this trip, I always thought, “Damn, they have a lot of thunder all the time.” Even with no clouds in the sky, there’s thunder. There are bombs.
Kyle: So, how’s this? Before it was a bombing range, it was used primarily for cattle herding. They had no harbors there. So, they would get the cattle out. They would rope them, and they would swim them out along the shore break and keep the heads above water. And then they would get them out to like a mothership, and they would hoist them up. But there are a lot of tiger sharks around the Kahoolawe, right? Sketchy guys were getting eaten by tiger sharks. So, they developed this method of rounding up like 300 or 400 wild goats and they would all push them off the cliff in one area, and all the tiger sharks would feast over there, and then they would strategically time their cattle run.
Chris: Wow, that’s brutal.
Kyle: That’s smart.
Ben: Wonder if the goats knew they were sacrificing themselves for their cousins, the cow. This is all for a greater cause, guys. Let’s do this. So, in terms of this hunting trip, a lot of people I think, they’re curious about this idea of going out to get your own meat. What do you think about that, Kyle? Is this sustainable, do you think? Do you think if everybody started to do things like we’re doing, maybe saw us on helicopters that it would have any kind of an impact on environment or sustainability or feeding the world’s population or anything like that?
Kyle: I was having this conversation yesterday with our guide, because a lot of hunters will make the argument that without hunting, Hawaii would never be the same because there are these massive populations of pig and goat, and they erode the cliffs, and it has this greater impact on the ecosystem. But relatively speaking, the amount of time and effort that it takes to hunt one animal and the amount that these animals breed, it’s not going to make a difference. You would have to remove 70% of the pig population every year in Hawaii just for it to maintain numbers.
Ben: And you certainly don’t do it to save money on meat. A lot of people think that. But I mean for me to fly down here and ship the meat back is of course very expensive. Although it’s an adventure, I’m out slaying my dragon out, seeking adventure which I think is just fine and justifiable. But even hunting back home, by the time you’ve added up all of your ammunition, your weaponry, your practice, whether it’s bows and arrows or rifles and bullets and you’ve gotten your permits, which frankly, I think that’s one of the big advantages of hunting. You’re paying money to help keep national parks alive or public hunting locations alive. It’s not cheap meat.
Kyle: No, it’s not cheap meat. And I think that there are other effects though that are greater such as you have a constituency that now cares about public land, these areas that otherwise would maybe be turned into a bombing zone or developed.
Ben: People don’t realize how much money from hunting goes towards environmental sustainability.
Kyle: Yeah. So, there’s a mass amount of money, there’s a mass amount of awareness that’s put into the public lands conversation that wouldn’t be there. And then that money is used to get wildlife biologists out there that can take a look at these various areas through a sober lens, because there are areas in Hawaii where the animal needs to be completely eradicated, because it’s a sensitive watershed. And if a herd of pigs gets in there, they’re basically rototillers with hooves and they’ll take out all the native plants. But there are also areas where eradication is not the solution. Management would be a much better way to go.
Ben: That’s the interesting part about this because people think when they hear, “Oh, goats, sheep,” they are so-called farm animals that you’re hunting, they have this vision of you like standing beside a barn, shooting into some corral at a tiny, little tied up sheep or something like that. These things are fucking smart. I mean, we have badass dudes out there in 3D engineered camo for days at a time and belly crawling, walking 20 miles a day trying to get one single freaking wild sheep. I mean, these are hard-ass hunts. Not to mention the axis dear.
Kyle: So, as far as the effect that it has, certainly awareness is a big one, certainly the money put into conservation, and then also the accountability level. I’m newer to hunting. I’ve been doing it for about three years, and Justin Lee was the guy who got me into it. I was actually working on a piece for discovery on the impact that wild pigs were having on coral reefs in Hawaii through this soil erosion. The soil will suspend out over the coral and it essentially suffocates it because coral needs what’s called oligotrophic conditions, a lot of sunlight and clear water to grow.
Ben: I knew what that meant.
Kyle: Right. Of course, you did. Emulsify. Ben taught me a new word the other day, when you blend something up in the morning–
Ben: Anything you blend with coffee, everything you mix with coffee, you must blend.
Kyle: You emulsify it.
Ben: We didn’t emulsify this Superfood Creamer we’re drinking right now. It would have been So, much better.
Ben: You can even do that with wine. You pour a cheap glass of wine and you aren’t emulsifying but you’re aerating the wine with a latte frother and it brings any halfway decent wine to the next level. It’s like decanting, but it does it in 60 seconds. Anyways, you’re on this hunt with Justin.
Kyle: I was on this hunt with Justin, and he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Yeah. It’s hard to describe what the experience is like because everyone has a different experience killing an animal, but it’s fucking for real. It’s in a very personal moment and you need to go through your mind. And that one degree of disconnection that is So, easy to maintain in our society right now is completely removed. And every time you order a ham sandwich after you hunt, you realize, “Oh, that’s the ham. That’s the part of the animal that I cut up.”
Ben: My take on it is I don’t think that it’s necessary to hunt all your own meat, but I think anyone who eats meat should hunt once just to see what it’s like. Not only how that animal is harvest, but what it feels like to crawl for an hour and cover 50 yards, and your entire body is locked up, and you stand up and your hands are trembling, and you’re pulling back on your bow, and you just work your ass off for an hour, and you accidentally put your toe on a twig when you stand up and game over. A whole day is done. Get up at 3:00 a.m. tomorrow and start over.
Chris: Let me ask you a question though. So, I was thinking about that and that was one of my reasons for coming out here, not on this hunt So, much because this was totally spontaneous, but Kyle and I are going to be on the Big Island in a month and we’ve been talking about that for a long time. But I was thinking most of the meat, all of the meat basically that I eat is factory-farmed or at least factory-harvested, if we’re going to use that word.
Kyle: Not a wild animal.
Chris: Not a wild animal. So, the experience that you just described really has nothing to do with most of the meat that I eat. For me, to be honest, wouldn’t the right thing be to tour a factory farm and a slaughterhouse?
Ben: Yeah. Or just go watch Food Inc. But yeah, that’d be like us watching the Hunting Channel and saying what we know what it’s like to hunt. But yeah, going and doing that, seeing the animal slaughtered, seeing how they’re cared for, or in this case, not cared for, caged up in little boxes and shoved down a coral and electrocuted to death. What was The Family Guy episode you were talking about, how venison is made, Kyle? Was it you talking about that– oh, how veal is made? The cow basically is inside this little building, gives birth to the calf. The calf goes down a conveyor belt to this meat grinder, and that’s real. But it’s eerily close to how a lot of this–
Kyle: I brought up the Simpsons episode where Lisa falls in love with this guy who’s a vegan. And she’s like, “I’m becoming vegan.” He’s like, “I’m a vegan, level eight. I don’t need anything that casts a shadow.”
Chris: Only you eat it at noon.
Kyle: Yeah. No. I think that that’s a great point. And the way that an animal has lived certainly has an effect on I think the ethics of it before it dies.
Chris: Right. And I wonder you know that old adage, “You are what you eat,” sometimes I wonder about all the cruelty that we eat, the disregard, that lack of any sort of respect for this sacredness of another living thing. We eat that. There was even a section in this book I just finished where I compared pig farming to the Holocaust. I wasn’t comparing Jews to pigs obviously, but my agent, who’s Jewish, was like, “Dude, you’ve got to pull this out, because that’s how people are going to read this.” But what I’m saying is factory farming– I think one of the reasons that the Holocaust, we call it the Holocaust, despite the fact that there have been many and with larger numbers, and they happen all the time. They’re happening right now.
Ben: Still are happening.
Chris: Yeah. But that’s the Holocaust, right? I think it’s the mechanization of it. I think it’s the fact that it’s So, familiar because it’s So, mechanized and controlled and numbered and everything’s worked out.
Kyle: It’s efficient.
Chris: It’s efficient and it’s fucking that’s what we do to animals, cattle cars.
Ben: Yeah. It’s a systematized means, efficient. It’s convenient. But yeah, you can speak to the energy in the food. I mean, we’re sitting around the fire last night eating axis deer that we’d hunted just a few hours earlier. It’s a completely different experience. Not only the taste of the food, but there are lower amounts of cortisol in the animal when it dies assuming you have an ethical shot. So, the meat is more flavorful. There’s less calcium in it. There’s less rigor mortis in the actual flesh. There’s something about the actual taste. It’s gamier, and of course, you can soak a lot of this meat in lemon juice or buttermilk like the goat testicles I made for you guys the other night. Take the testicles off the goat, soak in lemon juice, thin sliced–
Chris: I still think we should’ve tea bagged them.
Ben: Dredged in egg and coconut flour, tea bagged them, exactly. There weren’t enough.
Chris: It’s the proper way to eat.
Ben: But yeah, I mean you can get a lot of the gaminess out of the meat as well. But yeah, it really does feel as though you’re eating pure energy.
Chris: Well, that’s the thing. Do you think it goes beyond those chemicals into something I don’t know if spiritual is the word or karmic?
Ben: I think it does. It’s the same reason people argue that fresh vegetables picked from your garden and eaten with a meal have a higher degree of photonic energy from the sun. There are no PubMed studies on that. But it’s something that’s a reasonable idea at least, and it makes sense intuitively. This was fresh and alive just moments ago. Some of its life force is coming in to me.
Chris: And we have a relationship with these things, right? I mean, they’re living things. I think one of the things that’s happening in the last 50 years is science is finally starting to acknowledge that all this shit is alive. The guardian paradigm of everything else, being a machine, an unthinking machine is falling apart. Animal cognition, animal emotion, animal grieving, animal memory, all these things are–
Ben: Plants communicate.
Chris: Yeah, exactly.
Ben: Not wanting to be eaten by an animal. We were talking the other day the largest living thing on the planet is the mycelial network.
Chris: Right, right. And how the trees communicate.
Kyle: The wood wide web.
Chris: Yeah, the wood wide web, yeah. Have you ever been to Findhorn or heard of it in Scotland?
Ben: No. I haven’t been to Scotland.
Chris: It’s a new age center. It’s where they first started talking to plants and playing music for plants and all that kind of hocus-pocus. It started there. It’s a real interesting place. I don’t want to go off on a long tangent.
Ben: I can tell you that I did harvest the lungs from my sheep, So, I can make haggis which is apparently a thing in Scotland. I don’t know how to make it, but I know lungs are the primary ingredients. If I bring the lungs home, I can figure out the rest.
Chris: I think you cook it in a lung. I think it’s like minced meat and blood, and spices and vegetables in the lung.
Ben: Inside of a lung– I don’t know how that could be done. I have to show you the lung, because they’re not exactly like hollow there.
Kyle: Yeah. Well, I’m interested to get your perspective on how thoughts shape our health. And I asked you the other night about how you think thoughts can affect cancer.
Ben: Yeah. There is a book, for example, probably the most popular one is by Dr. Bruce Lipton called, “The Biology of Belief,” which goes into this idea behind like you would find in traditional Chinese medicine, the idea that anger, fear or bitterness can manifest in bone cancer, for example. Sexual frustration, et cetera, could result in some kind of a prostate issue or prostate cancer. And a lot of these things manifest in different areas of the body. What Bruce does is he takes it to the next level in his book and actually shows from science how thoughts and belief patterns affect the way that DNA expresses itself, affects what’s called epigenetic. Meaning that you can via meditation, for example, and mindfulness-based meditation increase the expression of certain genes that might make you more resilient to stress or less likely to have your cortisol as higher or less susceptible to disease or to have a stronger more robust immune system, not because there’s some magical thing that enhances your immune system, but because it can be shown that the expression of the DNA actually changes.
And furthermore, what’s very interesting is that the epigenetics that parents have or the epigenetic expression that parents have can be manifested in children down the line, which is why, for example, rodent models when stressed heavily have rodent offspring who are more sensitive to stress, who are stressed out more easily. So, there’s a lot of interesting examples in the book. But that one is called “Biology of Belief.” And there’s another very good one by Dr. Dawson Church that just came out. That one is called, “Mind to Matter.”
Kyle: We were talking, Chris, the other day about access to your– you’re asking me some questions. I said, well, yeah, they were originally from India. And one of the reasons they’re So, skittish is because they were evolved to hide from tigers, and that’s been drilled into them. Even though it’s been generations since any of these axis deer have been hunted by a tiger, they still have–
Ben: Whereas the goats have been hunted by tiger sharks for eons, we now know.
Kyle: But isn’t that interesting that they still have that instinct, but it seems like it’s such a further jump to use that logic on humans?
Ben: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I don’t think it is. I think we see breeding in the animal kingdom of animals that express certain traits all the time. Like you mentioned with the axis deer or with Rhodesian Ridgebacks for lions, it’d be interesting to see what a herd of Rhodesia Ridgebacks would do if put around cats or something like that.
Chris: Their herding behavior.
Ben: But yeah, I mean, there’s no reason not to think that human beings are not born with specific tendencies and can even be bred for specific tendencies based on the activities of the parents.
Chris: But do you think humans have instincts?
Ben: For what?
Chris: Well, this is an ongoing debate whether or not humans have instincts like the way spiders are born knowing how to make a web or apparently axis deer are born with certain escape behaviors pre-programmed into them that they don’t learn. These haven’t learned yet because they haven’t had any predators. So, the question is do humans have pre-programmed behavioral patterns that are built into us?
Ben: I don’t know. I mean, in witnessing my own children, of course, they seem to know automatically to go to the nipple, for example. They don’t have to be forced to go to the nipple. They just seem to know. What are other examples that I’ve seen?
Chris: I read somewhere that babies are terrified of images of snakes even though they’ve never seen a snake and have no reason to fear them.
Ben: Yeah. Most societies have a built-in villain as a python or a serpent or a satanic figure or something like that. But it’s interesting because many cultures have the same thing for goats, but my kids love our little Nigerian Dwarf goat, So, I don’t know.
Kyle: I was having this thought last night because when you’re out hunting or when you’re out humping, it taps you into a more primal version of yourself, and people talk about how you can see better, you can hear better, all these senses come alive, and you just feel So, human.
Ben: No need for psilocybin and just go hunting.
Kyle: That can help too, though. But anyway, we were around the campfire and everyone was trading stories like, “Did you flank him up from the left?” or “How was your bow working?” I noticed how human it is for us to compare notes and how that is really what allowed us to evolve. And I was thinking tens of thousands of years ago with hunter-gatherers, they would go out. That was a very primal part. But really what set them apart from every other animal was those times around the campfire when they would compare notes and improve So, quickly. I mean, you can probably speak to the human mind and how we’re set up best, but it was an insight that I think is often overlooked.
Chris: Yeah. The comparing of notes and also the coordinated hunting, there are a few other animals that do that. Wolves do that. In some cases, chimpanzees will drive prey toward others that are waiting. But there aren’t a lot. Some dolphins do it, I guess. So, yeah, the learning, the comparing of notes, interesting.
Kyle: Did you ever see the Planet Earth episode where there’s the seal on the iceberg and the killer whales coordinate an attack, So, they can’t knock it off the iceberg. And they all run in to it in a pack of four, and right before they hit the iceberg, they dive down, and it creates a wave and knocks the seal off the iceberg.
Chris: Poor seal.
Ben: So, those are evolving whales.
Chris: Along these lines a question I’ve often wondered about is the mainstream idea of prehistory having been nasty, brutish and short, right? And like prehistoric ancestors or hunter-gatherers are always living at the brink of starvation, always hyper-stressed, always fearful of predators, constant war, the sort of Steven–
Ben: The quintessential saber-toothed tiger.
Chris: Yeah, right. It’s the pink area, or the Richard Dawkins’ view of prehistory. But if that were the case, wouldn’t we be incredibly resilient towards stress? In fact, stress underlies the psychoneuroimmunology we’re talking about, the mind-body connection, how thoughts and mental attitudes can result in health out.
Ben: I think humans are very resilient to the type of stress that we have been exposed to for eons. Like for us to get up and hike up a steep hill very early in the morning, and then lay for two hours, and the stress is gone, and then this is my hunt yesterday then you wait for the axis deer and you hear it, your stress goes up, your heart rate goes to the roof. You shoot, your heart rate is still high, and it begins to settle down. And then you go to dress the animal and the heart rate rises again. And then the rest of the day, you’re just sitting under the tree, hanging out, eating some of the food. There are maybe two or three acute stressors, and then I get home and it is waking to 13 text messages and a hundred emails and all the Voxers, and you got to put out these completely unpredictable, unexpected fires the entire day. That’s the chronic stress that takes you out.
Plus, if you throw in the acute stressor, I got to go do my CrossFit workout, whatever, drive through traffic. A lot of people who exercise don’t even realize that exercise is a pretty significant stressor on top of all these other variables. I mean, we really are stressed out all the time, and I don’t think we’ve adapted to that. What’s interesting is maybe we will, maybe be able to start having generations who figure out how to handle it.
Kyle: Yeah. They feel more comfortable than any–
Ben: But as I mentioned, rodent models seem to show otherwise, that we become more sensitive to stress, that it in breeds the ability of the amygdala to be able to respond even quicker for the cortisol release to occur even more quickly.
Chris: Do you think that you can experience stress without knowing that you’re stressed, in fact, thinking you’re relaxed? The reason I asked, I have a friend who’s a cardiologist and we were talking about this, and he does ablations in the heart, So, he does this procedure every day and if he fucks up, the guy dies, right? And he says he’s not stressed at all. He says when he’s doing it, he’s totally focused, totally relaxed. I’m thinking how can you not be stressed knowing that if you make the slightest mistake, it could cost a life?
Ben: It’s like an NBA basketball player shooting a free throw in a stadium of 20,000 people or Rafael Nadal serving and had a grand slam.
Chris: Exactly. So, what do you think, is he stressed or not?
Ben: They have done So, many thousands and thousands of repetitions that their alpha brainwaves are high enough to be able to counteract the stress, because you can do an EEG analysis of that.
Chris: So, you think he is stressed.
Ben: Under pressure and you don’t show beta brainwaves, or they’re very, very small compared to the amount of alpha brainwave production. The same thing with heart rate variability, you can actually track via heart rate variability the interplay between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, and the people who are on top of their game or the professionals who have the so-called 10,000 hours, their heart rate variability stays very high. They have high parasympathetic, sympathetic balance during these events. I mean, it can be quantified, and the one major underlying characteristic is you’ve practiced enough to make it automatic.
Chris: So, if I understood you correctly, you think that he is experiencing stress but the alpha waves are overriding that, So, he doesn’t feel it.
Ben: No, the opposite. I think that there’s been enough practice and he’s in such a zone to where what stress is. From a biological standpoint, production of beta brainwaves, production of cortisol, hyperactive immune response, none of those become activated because of returning to the biology, the belief type of thing. His thoughts and emotions aren’t even allowing those to occur because he’s had So, much freaking practice with those activities.
Chris: So, what’s the difference then between stress and excitement?
Ben: Technically, there is not a difference between stress and excitement. There is negative stress and Eustress or positive stress, but both are forms of excitement.
Chris: So, like if Mick Jagger stands out in front of 100,000 people in a stadium and starts singing, presumably he feels excited, but he’s not stressed because he’s done it a million times. He knows he’s not going to fuck it up.
Chris: And even if he does fuck it up, it doesn’t matter. He’s Mick fucking Jagger. But he still feels excitement, his heart rate–
Ben: There are levels of stress, right? There are levels of your alpha-beta brainwave ratios. So, how much of the zone are you in versus those fast-stressful beta brainwaves, how much sympathetic nervous system activity is there versus parasympathetic nervous system activity. And there’s even a curve, in my sport psychology classes and university that we chose these curves that show the ideal state of arousal, the point at which arousal makes you a top performer. And it’s a curve that goes up, up, up based on level of arousal, and you reach a certain state of excitement where you’re performing very well. And then above that state, your performance starts to decrease. So, you do want to be in a state of certain excitement and in a state of so-called stress. You don’t want no beta brainwaves. You don’t want no sympathetic nervous system activity. There are levels.
Kyle: So, for the dummies like me, what’s the difference between alpha and beta brainwave?
Ben: Alpha brainwave would be what you would experience when you are in the flow, when often you’re meditating, you’re doing something very familiar to you, usually you’re happy, you’re focused, beta brainwaves become more stressful. They’re not bad, but typically, you’re operating at a higher level of focus and a higher level of this so-called excitement. Then you have the delta and the theta which are like deep meditative states, sleep states, slower brainwaves. Most people are in a mix of alpha and beta, the majority of their waking hours.
Kyle: And para and sympathetic– para and parasympathetic?
Ben: Sympathetic is the fight and flight nervous system, and parasympathetic is the rest and digest nervous system. So, you have this vagus nerve that snakes through your entire body, innervates all your organs. It’s kind of one of the master nerves, and it feeds into what’s called the sinoatrial node of your heart, your SA node. And the vagus nerve can trigger that node either speed up or slow down the heart rate. When it speeds it up, that’s sympathetic nervous system activity. When it slows it down, that’s parasympathetic nervous system activity.
Now, we were talking earlier about quantification using a ring or a wristband or something like that to monitor your heart rate variability. That’s exactly what that is. That’s why you want high heart rate variability, because the variability in terms of how much time there is in between each heart beat like beep 500 milliseconds, beat 499 milliseconds, beat 502 milliseconds. That’s good. You want that kind of variability because it shows that your vagus nerve is operating the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches properly. There’s good feedback between the two. Most people walk around with low HRV, typically in a highly sympathetic state, typically unable to respond to cues, typically with what’s called poor vagal nerve tone. And there are ways to increase the tone of your vagus nerve. Some of the biggies being like meditating, chanting, singing, humming, cold water like cryotherapy or cold showers work very well. So, you can actually train yourself to have a high HRV.
Kyle: And you said the other night when we were about to have dinner, “Hey guys, let’s all take five breaths together,” and you said this is really nice to do, but it also will allow you to absorb the nutrients in the food better–
Ben: We do that right before dinner.
Kyle: –because it puts your body in the rest to digest.
Ben: Breathe into your nose, out through your mouth to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Your incretin hormones, your gut hormones become more activated better able to digest food, you release this enzyme or this hormone called cholecystokinin, which actually causes you to feel fuller more quickly, So, you’re less likely to overeat. And it just sets you up for a lot of cool variables when it comes to digesting your meal properly.
Kyle: So, Jake Muise, do you have something to say?
Chris: I was just going to say maybe I should go get the world-famous spear fisherman because I’d love to pick in Ben’s brain.
Kyle: Yeah, grab him. Just hang out. You’re great. You can keep hanging out.
Chris: You know all these hunters here. You and I can talk anytime.
Kyle: No. You’re good. I’m enjoying this. I was going to say that Jake Muise is the owner of Maui Nui Venison. It’s the only wild venison company in the United States, USDA approved. He and his guys and one of the guides that was taking me around, every night, they take out 30 wild deer a night, and they have to shoot him in the head. They have to be killed immediately for it to be USDA approved and they have an inspector on-board every single night. He said, “From an efficiency standpoint, we could corral all of these animals and then we could get way more, but what happens is that stresses them.” And he said, “We’ve done studies where if an animal does not know that we’re there, because they do it in the night with night-vision goggles, the body will take over an hour to reach rigor mortis. Whereas if it’s stressed, the body will reach rigor mortis in under 20 minutes because it releases all of its lactic acid.”
Ben: That’s one of the main reasons you can also cramp when you’re exercising in a very stressful state. You get more rigor mortis, higher amount of calcium release. You can mimic that to a certain extent by just being stressed out during exercise.
Chris: Wow. So, cramping is a form of rigor mortis?
Ben: Cramping is very similar to rigor mortis in that. It’s like an alpha motor neuron reflex. It’s typically not dehydration or loss of potassium. You eat a banana, drink some water, and they know this because if you taste something very spicy or very salty or very sour, you can actually inhibit the cramp or reverse the cramp before any of the compound you’ve just put into your mouth would have had time to reach the muscle. It would be impossible for the salt to have time to reach the muscle, So, it’s just that taste overrides that neuronal reflex. So, if you’re out on a marathon, worried about cramping or you’re working out or whatever and cramping has been an issue for you, just taste something salty like you open a little mustard packet, or you get these electrolyte capsules, but you don’t swallow them. You squeeze them open into your mouth and they taste horrible, but that’s the idea, and the cramp goes away.
Kyle: So, what I always heard was that it was a potassium deficiency.
Ben: It can be, but it has to be a pretty severe ongoing potassium deficiency. It’s like 10% of cramps are some kind of dehydration or magnesium or potassium issue. Most of them are you’re asking your muscles to do something very quickly that they’re not used to or just giving them a huge surge of stress all at once.
Kyle: Scariest moment I’ve ever had in the ocean was surfing big waves and got sucked over the falls on a very big wave, and I got pinned to the bottom and my right calf cramped up. It felt as debilitating as a broken leg. When you get those cramps, you’re like–
Ben: You can’t use the leg at all.
Kyle: Yeah. Luckily, I’ve made it to the surface and like hobbled into the channel and tried to massage it out, massage it out, but those cramps can hurt for over a week after. It feels like a real injury.
Ben: Oh, yeah. I used to get those. Actually, it’s such a strong contraction. And what happens is normally, there’s a little organ called the Golgi tendon organ inside the belly of the muscle that would limit that contraction, but it can be overridden by that neuronal reflex. What’s very interesting is that humans have very, very responsive Golgi tendon organs. Monkeys, chimps, apes, gorillas, they’re just very, very strong pound-for-pound compared to human. They don’t have that built-in muscle protective reflex. So, they’ll just tear the hell out of their muscles moving shit, but just imagine how sore they are when they’ve, whatever, gotten in a fight at the zoo or something like that, because they use far more of their muscles than we do because we have this nice little beautiful built-in protective mechanism that when overridden, when you get that calf cramp, you realize, “Oh, shit. I could do this to myself in the gym every day if I didn’t have that little reflex that kept it from happening.”
Chris: So, does that explain these stories about the mother lifting the car off her baby?
Ben: Right. It’s an inhibition of the Golgi tendon organ because your brain takes over, shuts down that organ and says, “Fuck protecting the muscles. We have something bigger to do.” So, your body just basically destroys itself or destroys whatever muscles are being used to lift that car.
Kyle: Does PCP have an effect on that, because you hear these stories about–
Chris: Yeah, like they get tasered and nothing happens.
Kyle: Yeah, like the Terminator, I think he’s on PCP.
Chris: Superhuman strength.
Ben: Wait. What’s PCP?
Chris: Angel dust.
Kyle: It’s a drug. I don’t know a lot about it, but it’s a street drug that many times you hear these stories of people going crazy and like ripping people’s arms off and shit, like these superhero stories.
Ben: Yeah. I don’t know what the mechanism of the action of that drug is.
Kyle: Yeah, it’s a street drug. I don’t know a lot about it.
Ben: A lot of these things though, a lot of the drugs because you’ll note a lot of similar– like you can have an amazing workout on acid, for example, especially enough to where you’re still lucid but have that huge high. The same with psilocybin in some cases, but that’s all a serotonin and dopamine response. You’re just flooding yourself with neurotransmitters. It’s less related to the nervous system reflex. I would imagine based on what you’re saying about this PCP stuff that it would be more neurotransmitter based.
Chris: Getting back to the mechanism of self-limiting governor organ within the muscle, I wonder why chimps don’t have that. Evolutionarily speaking, where did that appear? That’s really interesting. Why would it have appeared for us and not five million years ago with our ancestors?
Ben: I mean, the very simplistic response would be brain over brawn, right? We have minds that are able to control our bodies more precisely. I don’t know when that occurred or how that occurred or why most monkeys and other families similar to humans, the primates don’t have that.
Chris: Really interesting. Yeah, I wonder if any other animal does.
Ben: I actually don’t know.
Chris: It’d be interesting.
Kyle: It’s So, interesting the differences you two have but similarities you do So, much work on prehistory, Chris, and arguing that prehistory was not nasty, brutish, solitary and short, but that in a lot of ways we were adapted to be in these small groups and live off the land. And then Ben, a lot of the work that you do is you’re very precise and very scientific. But when I hear a lot of what you’re talking about is it’s still going back to these ways that we were living in prehistory, but you’re just hitting it from a completely different angle.
Ben: Yeah. Plus, I do a lot more coffee enemas probably than Chris does.
Kyle: Maybe more than hunter-gatherer societies did as well.
Chris: No, I just do small little espresso enemas.
Ben: Like the full deal. Give me the Laird Hamilton.
Kyle: Well, I want Laird Hamilton in my ass.
Ben: [00:48:56] ______ for enema.
Chris: But I think about this a lot that it seems to me that the way forward in So, many different disciplines, certainly what you’re doing with sort of biohacking, I don’t know if you’re comfortable with that phrase–
Ben: It’s a silly overused phrase, but people understand what it means now.
Chris: Right. You’re trying to optimize the body and with psychology, sexuality, architecture, community development, education, birth, how we raise children, how children are born, I could go on and on, all these different fields, the direction forward relies upon a deep understanding of the past, right? Vaginal birth as opposed to cesarean delivery, why is that? Oh, because the mother colonizes the microbiomes before they–
Ben: Yeah. That’s where they get mom’s fecal matter.
Chris: Exactly. I mean, all these things that 50 years ago, we were going in the opposite direction, now it feels like there’s this turn where the end of the orbit came back.
Ben: Yeah. We’re realizing, “Oh, shit. Maybe we did need to do that. Maybe we sacrificed health for convenience, the C-section or infant formula,” which I think it’s no longer recommended. I think it’s in Britain now. They’ve gotten rid of any recommendations for infant formula. They’re now realizing that just screws a child’s microbiome and proper development because they’re not getting their ice cream from mom’s tit.
Kyle: Yeah, those Nestle product, right?
Chris: Nestle was famous for selling their expired formula that they couldn’t sell in Europe or the U.S. They hired people to go around Africa dressed like doctors, berating women who didn’t give their babies formula, telling them that this was much healthier.
Ben: Is that documented? That sounds like very–
Chris: Yeah, this was like in the ’70s, I think.
Ben: Wow, I didn’t know that.
Chris: There were lawsuits.
Chris: Yeah. This is one of the reasons that Nestle was So, hated, because they knew that they were mixing this formula with dirty water.
Kyle: So, the issue with it is that it doesn’t colonize the baby’s gut and–
Chris: Right. The colostrum, the first–
Ben: You miss out a lot. You miss out on the fatty acids, on the ketones, on that first milk, the colostrum. I mean, the composition of human breast milk, it is– I don’t remember if it was you and I that were talking about this the other day, but breast milk is built to be an addictive food. It’s one of the few natural foods on the face of the planet that is a hefty combination of sugar and fat, which actually makes older humans morbidly obese. I mean, breast milk is like ice cream. It’s developed to make humans addicted to it.
Ben: But if you were to drink breast milk for your entire life, you’d be freaking obese. You’d be overweight. You’d probably die of cardiovascular disease due to high levels of glucose, come out with high levels of cholesterol. But any meal in which large amounts of fat and large amounts of sugar are combined trigger this enormous dopamine release in a human.
Chris: Comfort food.
Ben: And it’s probably because that in an ideal situation would have been our first food.
Chris: Yeah, and it contains all the stuff that assists in brain development, early brain development, the immunological system of a child gets all this information from the mother, which also interestingly, epigenetically, changes depending on the environment that the mother has lived in. So, if the mothers lived in an environment with certain kinds of pathogens, the baby gets that information. This is your environment. You’re a jungle baby, So, you need to be protected against these things, whereas a kid in a desert would be getting different information from the mother.
Kyle: You had the conversation with Jeff Leach who is the microbiome guy and he made a point that, I was all over being the dirty hippie that I am, where he said that the microbiome and the science that’s coming out of it is one of the greatest gifts to the environmental movement that they’ve ever had, because we now know that your surroundings impact your gut health, and that as we know has all these various–
Ben: This is coming from a guy who hung himself upside down in a Hadza hunter-gatherer village to put warrior poop in his backside?
Chris: He didn’t hang himself upside down. He’s the gravy-based–
Ben: Oh, okay.
Chris: Yeah. Do you know the story about how we met this dude?
Ben: Jeff Leach? No.
Chris: It was crazy. I was driving through Texas. I’ll do this really quickly.
Kyle: It’s a great story.
Chris: I was driving through Texas in my van as I do of anthropologizing I call it. It’s recording podcasts with random interesting people. And someone said if you get to this little town Terlingua, you should look up my buddy, Tony. Turned out I was in Terlingua, I looked up Tony. Tony says, “Yeah, come. We’re having beers at this bar.” So, I go to the bar and it’s like a dozen people at the table. And someone says, “This mug is So, fucking dirty. I’m going to die. This is disgusting.” And someone else said, “Shut up. It’s good for your microbiome.” I’m like, “Oh, you guys know about microbiome.” And I’m sure you do this, too. I’m going to impress them with erudite knowledge, right?
Chris: And they’re like, “Yeah, we’ve heard of it.” I said, “You know, there was a guy a few years ago who lived with the Hadza hunter-gatherers in Tanzania and he took some of their shit and he mixed it up and he blasted it up his ass to see if he could get a hunter-gatherer microbiome going. And the guy I’m talking to says, “Yeah, that’s him.”
Ben: Oh my gosh.
Kyle: He points to him.
Ben: The guy with the dirty mug? Yeah.
Chris: And he’s sitting down there looking at me, smiling, listening to me tell the story about him.
Ben: He’s a hoot. And then from what I recall, he actually could feel like a change in his personality nearly immediately. And you can actually get the same with probiotics. It’s crazy how a slight adjustment to your microbiome using probiotics or using antibiotics or eating kefir or yogurt, I mean, you can actually do like a home probiotic enema, for example, and you feel different. It can actually change your personality for better or worse, because 90% of those neurotransmitters I was talking about earlier, like dopamine and serotonin, for example, serotonin especially, is made in your gut, not by you, but by your bacteria.
Kyle: So, it’s released. So, when you see a big animal or you get a big animal and you get a dopamine release, that’s coming from your gut, is that right?
Ben: It’s coming from your bacteria. And when you’re dressing that animal in the field, you’re getting a hefty amount of additional bacteria. That’s actually something that happens when you field dresses, you’re getting all the microbiome of that animal, you’re getting the blood in your face and all the insects and the fur. That’s why it’s important to let kids play outside and play with farm animals and for hunters to field dress.
Chris: Jeff talked about that. The Hadza, when they kill an animal often, they’ll take the intestine and sort of squeeze the shit out of it, but not wash it in water or anything, and then put it on a stick and cook it lightly over the fire, and then eat it.
Ben: And then the interesting thing about that is we have this popular carnivore diet now, but the problem is it’s primarily comprising of ribeye steaks from Costco, right? Nobody is actually eating the intestines. And even as we’ve been doing out here, very few people are harvesting the heart and the liver, eating the goat testicles, fry it up in a pan. It’s just not a thing, and that’s the problem with the sustainability of that diet is it’s just a whole bunch of methionine and none of the probiotics and none of the good stuff that you get from the organ meats.
Kyle: So, I have a question for you around cleanliness, and this is a product that we all consume more than anything. The water. The water for a lot of people, they’ll only drink bottled water, because tap water is dirty. I don’t want to get sick from this. But I learned recently that bottled water is treated by the FDA as a food product whereas tap water is treated as water. So, it’s tested multiple times a day, every single day for cleanliness. So, you could make the argument that bottled water is actually less regulated from a cleanliness standpoint than tap water.
And obviously, there are various aquifers. If you’re in San Francisco, you’re going to be getting your water from Hetch Hetchy. Santa Cruz, where I live, we get it from a river. I wanted to get your perspective on this, on bald water versus tap water, because it seems to me that there’s been this huge concerted effort by multinational companies to make it seem like tap water is unsafe to drink, whereas when our parents were our age, you were drinking from tap.
Ben: It’s tough because the municipal water supply now has a lot more chlorine, in many cases fluoride, in other cases, even like birth control pills and pharmaceuticals. So, I don’t know that bottled water is not tested for those. But most bottled water comes from some kind of a filtered source. Even my well water I filter because there are farm fields up the way from me that spray with glyphosate. I mean, we live in a post-industrial era in which I do think you need to be pretty damn cognizant of the water you drink. And anyone who hunts, even those that you dip down into a pristine mountain stream, and you might come down with the screaming shits because there was a dead deer 500 yards up the stream that you couldn’t find.
So, I think always some form of water filtration is highly advisable. I don’t know what bottled water companies aren’t filtrating their water. I drink Pellegrino just because it’s that and Gerolsteiner are some of the highest in minerals and lowest in microplastics of a lot of these bottled waters.
Kyle: So, you get your water from a local well?
Ben: I have a well on my property, and then that feeds into my house and goes through a water filter, and then it goes through what’s called a structured water tube, which basically makes the water begin to vibrate the same as it would if you were passing over a mountain stream, and then that’s the water that I drink.
Kyle: Well, have you noticed a big shift in your health? I mean, you’re just So, tuned into your body since you’ve started hunting. Anything that you didn’t expect?
Ben: No. Just a greater appreciation for the animals. I think of anything, the development of more patience. You just have to be freaking patient. For me, I’d rather sprint 50 yards than crawl 50 yards over an hour. But yeah, I would say the one biggest thing, and I was thinking about this week is, and Mark Healey can hop in here soon. Here we go.
Chris: I’m turning over my mic to Mark Healey.
Ben: Yeah. I’ll be done pretty soon, but I wanted to finish this loop. Where was I at now? The highly attractive Mark Healey sitting down beside me, and I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, patience. I think that’s the number one characteristic, and I’m a pretty impatient guy. I’m going to do it now, get it done, check it off, game over. And that’s the number one thing is that I have had to learn and I’m still learning with something like hunting is it’s a long game. Patience. So, yeah, yeah.
Kyle: Hi, Mark.
Mark: Hi, guys. Welcome to the show.
Kyle: We’re in civilization again.
Mark: We are.
Ben: All right. So, you guys want to do part two?
Kyle: Just hangout.
Ben: Well, I had a hell. I want to interrupt today’s show. This is Ben, by the way. I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you about this stuff called Keto Balance. This company PuraTHRIVE, they wanted to figure out a way to get rid of the keto flu and kind of the blah feeling that you get when you limit carbohydrates. So, what they did was they blended medium-chain triglycerides which your liver can very efficiently convert into ketones with very dense amounts of DHA, omega-3 fatty acids, and grass-fed bovine collagen. Moo. So, you can effectively and sustainably keep your body in ketosis. Their DHA is from algae oil, So, you don’t have to worry about any issues with rancidity of fish oil or mercury contamination, and they use something called a liposomal delivery mechanism. Liposomal apparently increases bioavailability by 20 times over. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can tell you that I have a couple bottles of the stuff in my fridge, and I mix it in with my morning smoothies for my collagen and my DHA and my MCTs all at once. It’s pretty dang good. And you get 15% off of it. You just go to PuraTHRIVE, just like it sounds, Pura, P-U-R-A, PuraTHRIVE.com/greenfieldketo. That gets you 15% off this fabulous keto support. Even if you’re non-ketosis, it’s really tasty.
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Kyle: So, Chris and Mark, you guys know each other yet?
Chris: No. I mean, we’ve just been introduced.
Mark: I’ve seen you twice in helicopter switches, which is a really interesting way to meet somebody.
Chris: It’s like ships passing in the night but a lot more noise.
Mark: Yeah, helicopters are intense.
Chris: I totally fucked up in that last helicopter pass. I thought I was sick and hanging with Kyle, and I thought give him some space, I’ll go back to the lodge, ended up there. It didn’t work out. You guys are on the beach spearfishing, having the best food in the world.
Kyle: I felt So, bad. Yeah, the diversity of country that we’ve been in over the last two days–
Chris: It’s incredible.
Kyle: It’s really incredible. Yeah.
Mark: Yeah. Some of the most special places on earth are in Hawaii. And I might seem a little biased because I’m born and raised here, but I’ve been traveling since I was 14 years old, So, some of the most beautiful beaches and mountains in the world– and I swear man, people don’t realize because it’s off that tourist path. It’s off that like herd, get off the bus, go see this and that.
Kyle: Yeah. And I always grew up going to the North Shore, being a beach kid. Oh, Hawaii, it’s the surf culture, but there’s a strong mountain culture in Hawaii as well.
Mark: Yeah. And I didn’t even realize that until I got into bow hunting, which was about six years ago. And through that process, I became friends with a lot of ranchers and everything. Did you know there was cowboys in Hawaii before there were cowboys I think in California?
Kyle: Right, because they would bring the cattle over, right?
Mark: Yeah. The Vaqueros came from Baja. The original cattle came from Baja, and they brought him, they ran wild, and the king put a kapu on them which meant nobody gets to kill them. He wanted the herd to proliferate and the cattle started jacking up everybody’s farms and everything, So, they’re like, “How do we handle these things?” and they brought in guys to come teach them.
Kyle: Yeah, man. I mean, the farming and fishing practices of Hawaii, I’m sure as you have gotten into it– I mean, you’ve been fishing your whole life, but hunting, to then learn about that side of the culture is such a defining aspect of Hawaii.
Mark: Yeah, it really is. And even growing up here, like I said, I didn’t really know how much of a defining aspect it was, and just learning how with basically like a cultural Holocaust, I came in with missionaries and everything, getting them to stop speaking Hawaiian in schools or anything like that, it was heavily looked down upon. And where the Hawaiian language stayed alive was out in the fields with the cowboys. And it was purely because it was a functional language. So, I would talk to one of the oldest OG cowboys still living and he was telling me it’s for the reason of when you’re hurting a bunch of cattle together, you’ve got 200 head of cattle, and you need to be able to communicate with your guy. It’s dangerous work back then.
And in the Hawaiian language, for example, he said there’s 15 different words for gray, 15 different variations. So, 200 head of cattle, you just say gray. There’s a bunch that are kind of gray but is very specific. So, even like Portuguese came here, white dudes, Japanese guys, they all had to learn Hawaiian to be able to work in the pastures.
Chris: Wow. That’s interesting, because it’s a more specific language in terms of color and other identifying things.
Chris: I wonder why that would be. Maybe there’s more. What if there are more colors appearing in the natural environment here than in most other environments? And so, the language would be reflective of that.
Chris: The birds and the plants and stuff.
Mark: Clouds, mist, rain. There are So, many different variations in Hawaiian. Like our English language is So, basic compared to the variety that they have.
Kyle: Right. I think about this a lot, it gets more difficult to feel something if you can’t name it. If someone can name the emotion for you that you’re feeling, all of the sudden, you’re like, “Yes, that’s what I was trying to say.” And aren’t there hundreds of words for different waves and ocean conditions as well?
Mark: Oh yeah, absolutely. And you know what, maybe that’s why podcasts have taken off So, much is because you get a chance to break down a concept, because we’re limited by the words in our English language.
Kyle: Yeah. I think it’s very freeing for a lot of people when they can have someone to scribe something that they’re feeling. But yeah, I mean, you’re talking about it on a much more practical level which is hunting. I mean, before I got into hunting deer, I just thought it was called deer, and there were bucks and does and fawns. It’s a whole new vocabulary that you learn.
Mark: Yeah. And then you got to learn the deer language, because the deer have a whole vocabulary. And a lot of this vocabulary happens not during daylight hours, So, there are guys who know how to literally talk to the deer. They’re like, “Oh, no. That tone is I’m over here, meet me over here, talking to the other deer,” and they can mimic it. There are some crazy layers to this game. I’m just getting into them.
Chris: Have you ever been to the Canary Islands in Spain?
Mark: I have not.
Chris: There’s one of them, I think it’s Gomera, where they have this weird language that’s whistles. And it’s all just like the language of whistles. And it’s adapted to the landscape because the island is a volcanic island with really deep ravines running down the sides, and the villages are on the ridges. So, you can have a village that’s maybe 500 meters away, but it would take you two days to get there, because you’d have to go all the way down and then all the way back up, right? And So, they’ve developed these whistles that carry over the distance.
And I have a friend who grew up there and we’re talking about this– the deer reminded me, what you’re saying about the deer like, “Hey, it’s cool. I’m over here. Come on over.” They say stuff like that. I asked him how specific is it, and he said, “I could say tell your sister to meet me in front of the white church at four o’clock.” It’s that specific.
Mark: Wow. That’s incredible. And it’s a whistle, obviously, because that carries further in the valley, right?
Kyle: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Chris: So, did you grow up here?
Mark: Yeah. I’m born and raised on Oahu.
Chris: Wow. You say you’ve been traveling since you were 14. Why was that?
Mark: So, I grew up doing a lot of different sports. I did well in school. I always thought I’d go get a scholarship, go to college. I enjoyed learning. And all of a sudden, because the North Shore of Oahu is the mecca of the surfing world, nothing goes unseen. And I like surfing bigger waves and start getting photos in magazines and companies want to sponsor you, and then all of a sudden, you’re going on a trip somewhere. And you’re like, “Yeah, fuck college. I’m sticking with this. This is exactly what I want to do.” And I remember this like turning-point moment because I was always fascinated with Fiji. I go to the library. I order every book from around the island about Fiji whether it’s a history and the cannibalism in the place. Like third-grade pick a country, write about it, Fiji. Fourth grade, Fiji. Fifth grade, Fiji.
And it turned out I got a sponsor and the first international trip that they offered, going to Fiji. And I got there and was like, “Oh, my god. It’s happening.” You can manifest things and really make them happen. It was a mind-blower. It changed my perspective on the world that things don’t have to just be some longshot dream. You can make that stuff happen. And I went over there, and we stayed on this island, and I was like 14. And the whole group I was with, we stayed there. I had a blast. I was hanging with the Fijian people and everything. And the day came for us to leave, and everyone was packing up. And I just went straight to the manager’s office, who runs the island, I’m like, “Can I stay here? I’ll work. I just want to stay.” And they’re like, “Yeah, we’ll keep you around, give you some odd jobs.”
So, they left, and I made sure it was when the plane had already left, and I made my call to my parents, I’m like, “Hey guys, I’m not coming home.” I ended up with a mohawk, like pounding beers like a pirate, and work.
Kyle: Did you work as a boatman?
Mark: Yeah, I worked as a boatman.
Kyle: So, did you learn a lot of that safety stuff pretty early on?
Ben: What’s a boatman?
Mark: So, a boatman at this particular place called Tavarua in Fiji. A boatman is a guy– it’s an unpaid job. It’s almost like a ski instructor in a way. So, you have to have a boatman on the boat that goes to the far reefs to go surf these breaks and make sure that you give the guests the rundown of, “Okay, this is where you want to sit. This is where you go. If you get caught inside on the reef, this is how you get back out,” because it’s pretty hectic and shallow, and people are getting cut up. You got to make sure they don’t die, basically, and help them out to break their leash.
Kyle: And the wave, it’s one of the best waves in the world.
Chris: And it’s pretty far, I’m sure.
Kyle: And those ruler-edge perfect, left-hand barrel. And it also holds to be one of the biggest best waves in the world. There was a swell there a few years ago, they called it the Thundercloud Day where, I mean, there were barrels that you could drive trucks through. And there’s this iconic photo of Healey on the outside, and this 25-foot wave coming through and it’s just–
Mark: But you have to realize, when we say 25-foot, we’re stuck in this like Hawaiian surf scale lingo. This is like a 60-foot wave that has three times as much water and inertia in it than a normal 60-foot wave. It’s an act of God moment.
Kyle: Yeah, act of God–
Chris: It’s because it’s more voluminous?
Kyle: And perfect. It’s like not a drop of water out of place perfect. And there’s this photo of– I mean, you should just tell the story.
Mark: I mean, it’s one of those moments in surfing–
Chris: So, is Healey a legendary surfer?
Mark: Just a squirrel trying to get a nut.
Chris: A legendary squirrel with a big nut. Big nut squirrel. All right.
Mark: So, we were out this day and the entire surfing world went there, and all eyes were on this break because the Elite Professional Tour, their stop was actually at this location. And So, we weren’t going to be able to surf because they have the live webcasts and everything. And it’s a big deal, this event. But we were betting that the waves would get too big and they would call it off for safety reasons. So, we flew down there on the bet that they’re going to call it off and we were going to be able to surf.
Chris: It’s going to be too big for the pros on the tour So, you guys can go in.
Mark: Yeah, for the best guys in the world. Exactly.
Kyle: Makes sense, right? Well, there really are these two different groups. There’s the Elite Pro Surfers that go around to these events, and then there are professional big-wave surfers that go to the biggest swells of the year, and that’s their specialty. That’s what Mark does.
Mark: So, that’s what I did. We went there. They called the contest off as we thought, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. And it was this really interesting scenario where they had all that live webcast equipment there, and they just kept running it for this free surf. It’s not a contest. They’re like, “Oh man, web views are going through the roof. We’re not shutting this thing down.” And So, it was really interesting and kind of changed big wave surfing, because all of the sudden, it went out to everybody. And everybody got to see what actually happens. It blew the numbers away for webcast viewership.
And anyways, I got a bunch of good waves. Every hour, the standard and the bar for surfing big waves got pushed up. You have a lot of talent in the water, getting good waves. And then I started getting all cross-eyed and being like, “All right, man, I want to really send it on one.” And I started looking at these waves that seemed a bit un-ridable, and I paddled over one, and I was kind of checking just to see what I would have to do or where I’d have to place myself on this wave if I want to catch one.
So, I’m kind of doing research and I paddled over this wave, the next one behind it was so– I’m telling you, So, when you paddle over a wave, even if there’s no wind, there’s So, much energy. It’s moving at 25 to 30 knots. So, it creates a wind. So, there’s spray coming off the back, So, you get over it. And you’re just in the spray of the wave.
Kyle: You’re blind for a moment.
Mark: You’re blinded and all I see is black. I don’t see the horizon. I’m like, “Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.” I’m paddling, I’m paddling. I’m trying to clear my eyes, and I see this thing coming down the reef. I swear to God, it was like an outer-body experience seeing this and it’s hard to describe. I’m sure there’s a lot of people that aren’t around to talk about it, but to see something So, powerful and So, beautiful that’s about to kill you.
So, there’s like terror and awe at the same time. And I’m paddling, paddling. I’m like maybe I’ll be able to swim under this thing, but with my board, it’s going to catch my board when I dive off my board and that is going to pull me over with it which would be super bad news. And I’m looking at this thing, and I feel like the loneliest man on earth, and it’s coming in. And I’m getting my breathing down. I’m like, “Okay. This could be it.” The most focus I have to be in my entire life, paddling out, paddling out, scratching. And I realized because my leash is on my left leg, I have to time this to where my last stroke is with my left arm, and I reach down and swipe my leash. And if I don’t get it, I’m completely fucked. I have to get this leash off my leg.
Chris: You want to disconnect?
Mark: I want to disconnect.
Kyle: Because you don’t want the board to suck you back. Imagine swimming through a wave, but then the board just slowly pulls you back.
Chris: Right. So, you have no intention to try to ride this. You’re just trying to get through it.
Mark: Fuck no.
Kyle: He just wanted to get through it at all cost.
Chris: Is it starting to curl above you?
Mark: So, it’s coming down the line, because like Kyle said, it’s a ruler-edge reef.
Chris: It’s already very–
Mark: It’s breaking and it’s coming across at me.
Chris: Oh, right.
Mark: So, it’s this timing thing of it coming across and then–
Kyle: It’s like a freight train and you’re trying to make it across the tracks before the freight train hits you.
Mark: And then as I take my one last breathe as this thing is upon me, and I hit that leash and somehow, I get it off, thank God, and I start swimming through it. And as soon as I go into the wall of this wave, my ears, my eardrums almost pop, because I go from being at one atmosphere to being at like three atmospheres in an instant, because there’s such a giant column of water above me.
Mark: And I’m just swimming like breast stroking for my life. I’m deep under this water column and I can feel it trying to drag me back over, and I’m swimming, swimming. I see sunlight at the surface, and I start coming up. And at this point, I’m like, “Oh my god, I made it through. Thank God,” but I’m completely shot. I just did a sprint to swim through anaerobic, holding my breath. I’m like if there’s another one I’m done, period.
Chris: Right. You got nothing left.
Mark: And my brain was in a place after seeing a wave that I never thought I could make up in my mind, then I was like, “There could be 100-footer behind this.” Nothing is impossible to me at this point. So, I don’t even look up. I just hit the surface and start swimming out to sea, and then I finally look up and there’s not another one. I look back. There’s this explosion like an atomic bomb, and I literally see pieces of coral, the size of footballs getting shot 100 feet in the air. Coral is breaking. And this is an exposed reef that gets scoured by every swell that comes in for years, and there’s coral heads ejecting into the atmosphere.
I’m like, “Oh my god.” And it hit the reef so hard, you got this crazy acrid smell of like a harbor. You could smell all the stuff that got scrubbed off the bottom, and there’s a backwash shockwave that came out. So, there’s actually a wave that came out to sea off of it like just a four-foot white water. And when that hit, it brought all this murky water from everything that got stirred up and started getting stung by all these things in the reef that weren’t there. I’m like, “I’m getting stung,” and I ended up getting picked up by a jet ski.
Kyle: Board was gone.
Mark: Board was gone. I ended up finding it later like a mile in.
Mark: Yeah, somehow.
Kyle: A lot of times a board won’t break if it’s not attached to you.
Kyle: So, there’s a wave in Mexico called Puerto Escondido and a lot of guys won’t wear leashes there because there’s a lot of closed out barrels. So, you’re riding in the tube and then it closes out. And if it’s not attached to your leg, a lot of times the board will just kind of shoot down and out the back. But it’s something weird when it’s connected to you. It has more of a chance of breaking.
Mark: So, were you aware of all this happening? Because I know you’re real tuned in to big waves around the world.
Kyle: Oh, it was probably the most famous day, or it was like the day fucking Kennedy got shot or something like all wise–
Chris: Where were you when this happened?
Kyle: Santa Cruz, watching on my computer like, “Mom, I’m not doing anything today except–” We’ll have all the boys come over into our living room, and we’ll set up the computer on the TV, and it’s like the Super Bowl for us. We’ll just crack beers and we’re like, “Yes, this is the best day ever.” And it goes to show how badass big wave surfing is because if you’re looking at guys surfing two-foot waves halfway around the world in Brazil or something, it’s not very entertaining. But when you are faced with your own mortality by watching something on the screen, it becomes a lot more entertaining. And there’s this photo of that wave coming through and you just see Mark’s board in the left of it. And it’s just like this little toothpick.
Mark: The reason why that photo is So, popular is that the wave is So, perfect that you would never be able to guess how big it is if you didn’t have an eight-foot six board. You’re like, “Oh my god, that wave is humongous.”
Kyle: That’s the thing is a lot of these swells that you chase around the world, for really big waves, also have shitty conditions that come with them. So, there’s a huge storm coming and it needs to come from a certain distance away for the local weather patterns to be calm and just the swell to come in. But a lot of times, a south wind can ruin your party, and you only get that forecast 18 hours in advance. So, there’s a lot of hype around big wave sessions and then a lot of ruined days and plane tickets are already bought.
Chris: Yeah, right.
Kyle: What a bummer. So, that’s what made that so special is that they had the size and the perfection.
Chris: You know, when you were describing it, that part where you’re talking about just seeing black and the mixture of terror and appreciation and awe, I think was your word, you reminded me of this passage I read of, I think it was one of the guys who was looking for Livingstone, the source of the Nile and all that stuff. And he was attacked by a lion. You said there are many people alive who can tell you about this, because people have seen it and that’s the last thing they saw.
This guy got attacked by a lion and he described the experience. It was similar in some ways. He felt this absolute calm. He felt like, “Oh, this is how I die,” and the lion had him by the head in his jaws and was tossing him around like the way cattle play with a toy or something. And he said he was totally relaxed and just had the sense of, “Oh, this is how it ends.” Interesting.
Kyle: So, I want to get your thoughts on this. So, Chris has this great grand unified theory on nature and how we have it all wrong that we see nature as this very horrible, violent, destructive force when you tell a story like that. And the last thing that this guy talks about feeling was calm and bliss. Maybe not bliss, but just calm. Why would we be set up for that, because if the last moments that you would feel, even in the most violent terror, is calm and that’s somehow embedded into your DNA, this is you talking not me. But I think it’s a really interesting concept and it certainly ties in with the killing of an animal.
Chris: Well, the killing of an animal the way it happens in nature, that was the point I was making when I just finished writing this book. And I quoted that guy getting attacked because one of the things I was saying is people who have this Hobbesian view of nature, that it’s nasty, brutish and short, one of the things they talk about is everything eats life. Things eat other things and that’s horrible. But I was pointing to evidence that even in cases where that does happen, and it does happen of course, the prey animal probably doesn’t suffer because there’s a lot of evidence that there’s a release of endorphins when it’s in the grip of the lion or the leopard or whatever, an arrow or a shot from I don’t know where.
I don’t if how they would respond to that. I don’t know if it’s the same thing. But I mean you’re asking why we would be set up that way. I’ve learned in studying evolution that that’s not always a question that makes sense because a lot of things that we experience aren’t evolved for a purpose. They’re byproducts or random– Stephen Jay Gould called them spandrels which is he was in a church in Italy and they have these arches. So, imagine we’re looking at a structure right now, a square structure, they build the arch like this in these medieval churches, and then the area in the corner that cuts the corner, they make all this beautiful art, and those are called spandrels. And it looks like they have a structural purpose, but they actually don’t. They’re just filling that corner because they need this. It’s a square structure that they built the arch into. I don’t know if I’m making any sense but–
Kyle: No. It definitely does.
Chris: Biology works that way, that there are things that look like they have a structural purpose, So, we say, “Why would it have evolved that way?” But in fact, that thing isn’t even a thing in evolutionary terms. Like the chin, there’s no chin. The chin is just what we call this place where two jaw bones fused together. So, if you started asking like, “Why did the human chin evolve this way or that way?” that actually doesn’t make any sense. But people who aren’t specialists ask those questions all the time. So, I don’t know if there is a reason for why we evolve.
Kyle: I don’t know if there is a reason or if we’re really just trying to find a reason to make it more comforting for us. I don’t know. I spend a lot of time watching things in nature and I’ll tell you what, an arrow is a God-sent for an animal. They don’t die well. They die. They get left behind by the herd. If they’re lucky enough to get old, they break a leg.
Chris: You’re talking about here where there are no predators.
Kyle: Exactly. Or if it’s in a place with predators, pack of dogs is probably the worst way to go, wolves, wild dogs–
Mark: Just rip you apart.
Kyle: Things like that. Yeah. It isn’t pretty. So, I find it really interesting that people think it’s So, barbaric to hunt. It comes from a lack of perspective, I think. Nobody that’s out there and actually has watched nature run its course could have that viewpoint, I think. I think the real problem is why would you want to be a part of that, which goes back to how we’ve been So, accustomed to being separate from nature.
Chris: That’s it. We talk about death as if there’s another option.
Chris: We don’t talk about it as if it’s a given and then you just choose your way out. We talk as if there’s a “no, I don’t want to go” option, and there fucking isn’t.
Kyle: But I feel like that’s a very Western culture thing. Every other culture celebrates the fact that it’s happening. They talk about it. They have their relatives in their backyard buried or they have festivals or holidays or feasts that confront death, whereas we try to act like it’s not going to happen which is the most insane thing I could possibly think of.
Chris: Yeah. I wonder if that’s also a reason for some of the animosity against hunting because it reminds people of–
Kyle: It’s confrontational.
Chris: Yeah. And they don’t want to think about their own death, but they also don’t want to think about the death of the animal that went into that pizza. So, there’s a denial. Anytime you fuck with people’s systems of denial, it pisses them off.
Mark: Just ask this guy about monogamy. I asked Chris I think on the first podcast that we did, I was like, “So, how do you bring up a conversation around the dinner table around non-monogamy?” And he’s like, “I have no desire to bring up conversations around this. I’ve ruined enough dinner parties.”
Kyle: It’s like walking away from a bunker and throwing a grenade over your shoulder. There you go, guys. Have fun arguing about this one later.
Chris: I’ve seen So, many dinner parties just disintegrate around that, and I feel terrible about it. The first few hours, I was amused, but after the fifth or sixth one, I’m like, “Geez, nobody’s going to ever invite me to a party.”
Kyle: Chris is either the best dinner party guest because he has thousands of amazing stories or the worst dinner party guest because he tells the one story that makes everyone feel really uncomfortable.
Chris: Or I try to tell all thousand.
Chris: Here’s another one. There he goes. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be like an old man with lots of stories. That was my ambition in life.
Mark: Fuck. That’s a good one.
Kyle: That’s a good one.
Chris: Yeah, but then you get to be the older man with stories and it’s like first of all, well, thank God for podcasts.
Chris: I just realized I just need a fucking– “Chris is telling that story again. Time for me to go take a piss.”
Kyle: I’m sure a lot of podcasters think that, too.
Chris: I know. I told this story 50 times on my podcast.
Mark: I’m So, on that trajectory, man.
Kyle: Well, it’s interesting we have all these experiences and the three of us are very experienced driven people. Like Chris has traveled the world and that’s not a very rich life, but a lot of people do and they don’t take stories from it. There are certain people who see their lives in narrative. And I’ve been with Chris when he tells some of the things that have happened to him and I was there, I’m like, “Yeah, it’s absolutely the way that it happened.” But you saw these moments within the situation that created a narrative that is now a story. A lot of people when they talk about something that happened to them, it’s just these little flashes like, “Oh, how was your trip to Hawaii?” Like, “Oh well, we were on top of a mountain and then we were on a beach and then we went diving and it was great.” You just So, naturally create an arc with the story of your life.
Chris: Yeah. Well, I think it’s the way people see things. Van Gogh saw the movement and the color, and not that I’m comparing myself to Van Gogh, of course. But photographers see framing. You guys look at the ocean and you see things in the waves that other people don’t see, or you see the behavior of animals or whatever. I’ve always seen narrative. I’ve seen a story happen like as it’s happening. I’m like, “Oh and then oh.” It’s connect the dots. I think that’s the thing about stories is to know which dots to connect and leave out the other shit.
Mark: So, I guess a requirement of being that way is to be very present and be paying attention to those little in-between things, whereas I feel like a lot of people it’s almost they go through most of their life the same way when you’re driving in traffic and you basically zoned out. You didn’t take anything in the whole time. You’re like, “How did I even get here?” I was like on my phone or talking to somebody and somehow, I just drove here.
Kyle: Yeah. I was talking to this reporter once on my podcast and I asked him what he thinks the biggest issue a lot of journalist make is. He said, “They write the story before they go.”
Chris: That’s Matt Taibbi.
Kyle: Taibbi, yeah. I think that I feel that. Even on this hunt, like, “Oh, yeah. How was the hunt? I shot a big buck.” This is before I’ve even done it. I tell these stories before the event has happened. And So, I was down at Chris’s house, this last one when all the L.A. fires were happening. And Chris had to get evacuated from his house in Topanga, the fires were just north. And you told me, you’re like, “It sucks because I see my life in narrative. I’ve already thought about the lesson that’s going to happen from my house burning down and how it’s going to be this great story,” but then your house never burned down.
Chris: I was actually disappointed.
Mark: But it’s good insurance.
Chris: I have no insurance. I rent.
Kyle: He just doesn’t have any things.
Chris: There is nothing.
Kyle: Yeah, but there’s a good–
Chris: I thought about it. Because I was in my van, I have a camper van and I was on my way to Big Sur to do a podcast recording when it all happened, and they wouldn’t let me go back in. So, I was like, “All right. Well, I can live in my van; passport, my Avian Award, little cash.
Kyle: He won the best non-sex performance at the Adult Video News Awards.
Chris: It’s like the Oscar of porn for best non-sex performance.
Mark: That’s amazing.
Kyle: He has two trophies. He has the Avian Award and the Motherfucker Award.
Mark: Oh, I love it.
Kyle: Motherfucker of the year.
Chris: I think it’s the award that is most like losing. You are the best non-sex performance.
Kyle: We like you though, buddy.
Chris: I’d rather have the worst sex performance, I think.
Kyle: I think everybody got some of those awards. It’s just not on the mantel.
Chris: They’re not acknowledged. At least, I got acknowledged.
Kyle: But I think it’s really interesting with the way the masses consume things in that that just resonates with certain people that ability to tell a story and tell the in-between parts because you know because of those in-between parts and those details that lead into it and the characters involved that it’s true. It’s not bullshit. And that resonates with people whether they actively think that or not. So, you’re like, “Oh, there’s hope that people can think in shades of gray instead of polarized all the time.”
But then you see all the stuff that really takes off in popular culture and you’re like, “Well, that’s really popular, too.” So, it’s interesting and I think the reason why people are into that fast food garbage kind of stuff is it’s just too exhausting to take on too much information or have to think about a topic like the ones that ruin dinners. It’s like, “Gosh, I have too much on my plate.” And I always go back to the Jesus story because he was crucified. Thousands of people were crucified. What did that narrative have in it that made his experience different than anybody else? And the only thing that was different is that he was bearing the weight of all the world’s problems.
And So, that should really tell you something about how terrified we all are about having to think in those shades of gray or what’s going on with everything else because our mental capacity and emotional capacity can only handle So, much. It’s really interesting that that was the one tipping point to make everybody think like, “Okay, that was a big sacrifice.” And I think you have these people that are incapable of doing it because they have too much on their plate. Yet, they’re inundated with the news of every bad thing going on in the world and people are just overloaded. I know that’s a rabbit hole, but it reminds me of your storytelling and people are getting upset and not being able to talk through a concept.
Mark: It speaks to the hardware in our brains. What is it that we’re set up for? I’ve told this story a few times in my podcast, but I think it’s really interesting. There have been studies done on altruism and donations. So, you get a little pamphlet and says, “This is Jacob, and for $10 a month, you can send him to school. He comes from the Sudan where his family was killed.” And there will be a relatively high donation rate. But then you take that same pamphlet and say, “This is Jacob, and this is his sister Jane. They’re from the Sudan and for $10 a month you can send them to school.” It drops almost in half. And then you say, “This is Jacob and sister Jane and there are 20,000 children just like them.” And it goes down to almost no donations.
Chris: So, the specificity holds the emotion.
Mark: The specificity and the other dynamics when you talk about more people, it makes it too overwhelming for people to take action. That speaks to storytelling.
Chris: Yeah, one-on-one. Also, you talk about evolution and storytelling and all these things, I often think about something I think doesn’t get any attention in science but it’s probably really important, which is the role of fire in human evolution, of consciousness. The thing about it, we’ve sat around a fire every fucking night for around a million years. The first evidence of fire is about a million years, controlled fire. It’s the source of food, protection, amusement, comfort, all these different things. And we’ve sat around staring into it. It’s mesmerizing. We can’t take our eyes away from it. I think at some point, science is going to get to the point where they can measure and analyze the reflections in the neurons of the brain of the fire. I think the movement of fire is somehow reflected in the nature of human consciousness.
Kyle: I mean, it would make sense because the successful humans were around fire. And it’s really interesting what a lot of people don’t take into consideration is like Aboriginal culture pre-contact, Native American culture pre-contact. People assume that it was just like they left everything wild and they just live one with nature. They used fire to alter entire landscapes. They actively used fires to do that. And that’s one of the reasons why these Los Angeles fires are So, bad is because you can’t do controlled burns because it might take out some houses. You’re kind of screwed and it’s only going to keep getting worse. But humans, in fairly recent history, in the scale of things like pre-contact cultures, use fire intensively to change landscapes.
Chris: I think there’s evidence now that even in the Amazon, there were vast areas that were cleared with fire and used for agriculture, because now, with satellites they’re able to see things that you can’t see from the surface. And they’re finding roadways and parcels and all this kind of stuff in the Amazon that everyone had assumed was uncultivated.
Kyle: One thing I’ve noticed, podcasters around a fire never work well.
Kyle: Do you know why? Because there are too many mesmerizing pause moments. Silence is the–
Mark: It’s true. I remember I’ve been a part of one of these.
Kyle: Fuck. I was also way too stoned. I think it’s a bad call.
Mark: Yeah, that was aggressive.
Kyle: Yeah. I’m like, “I’m going to hit this vape pad.” It was one of those podcasts like they were talking, and then I’m like, “Oh shit, I’m next.”
Mark: And they’re going to look at me–
Kyle: I’m still going to host this thing. Just keep talking Mark, please. But it really does something to the brain, and we need Ben Greenfield here for this. But it puts you in this immediate meditative state. Fire and water–
Chris: Yeah. I’ll between he was talking earlier about alpha waves. I’ll bet looking at fire increases the alpha waves, markedly. I’d be very surprised, if it didn’t.
Kyle: Yeah. Wallace J. Nichols, the author of Blue Mind, writes about how water is the greatest source of awe that we know. So, there have been studies where there are images of nature, So, nature is the greatest source of awe. And then within that broad category, water provides that feeling which enhances compassion and empathy and all these emotions that we need more of, which speaks to a lot of branding, how many brands there are with a wave or a waterfall that get you to buy it because it speaks to you in a way.
Mark: Well, that would make sense that compassion and empathy would be triggered because you don’t have scarcity. Water is either going to be food or it’s going to be drinking water. And what happens is like you get a ghetto going, crime starts. It doesn’t matter what color, what culture. You got people with scarcity, bad things start happening.
Kyle: Yeah. The scarcity model man, it really is–
Chris: Scarcity even perceived or real? Perceived is the problem.
Kyle: Perceived. I mean, you talk a lot. Yeah. Take it away, doctor.
Chris: Because the irony of that is that you have these hunter-gatherer societies that actually do have scarcity in the sense that they’re living– today’s hunt, if it’s unsuccessful, we don’t eat tonight, but they share everything. And then you have post-agricultural societies that have a surplus of food, but because there’s a surplus, you have to control distribution and you get this hierarchical political situation, and then you get a perception of scarcity. So, here we are living in 2019 with, at least for us, the highest surplus of resources imaginable in the history of our species. And yet, we live with the perception of scarcity. There’s never enough. I got to save up for retirement. I got to save for my kids. I got to save for when I’m going to get sick.
Kyle: Yeah, that is So, true.
Chris: It’s interesting. People who have nothing live as if they have it all, and people who have it all live as if we don’t have enough.
Kyle: And you will stay in that perceived scarcity if you never experienced anything else. I’ve been putting my little walnut brain towards things for a long time, and what I’ve landed on at the current moment is like, and I’m not right, So, like I’m not being self-righteous, that you cannot tell people what to do or think. People are going to do what they want. My goal if I’m going to do anything positive is to create perspective. So, it’s like if you have perceived scarcity, go and do a day where like all you’re worried about is getting food, getting water, keeping the fire going. So, many people never experienced that. And I always think of it as it’s like, because I’m a visual thinker, it’s like looking across Death Valley. It’s flat as far as you can see. You have no idea how to tell distance, but if somebody just put something as simple as one telephone pole anywhere in that valley–
Mark: Or surfboard.
Kyle: Yeah, or surfboard. You have a gauge all of the sudden. Something so simple gives you a gauge to navigate. And it’s like that perceived scarcity mindset could, I think, very well be offset by a simple experience in nature or a real experience where it’s on you to make this happen and there are real consequences. It doesn’t have to be to the full extreme, but if you don’t get that fire started to boil that water, you’re not drinking water tonight. As long as you have that, that’s putting your fence post or your telephone post out in Death Valley to me.
Chris: Yeah. I think that’s a great point. I remember back in the days when I hitchhiked a lot and was traveling super low budget. I can remember like I would hop trains for a while. I can remember being on a train–
Mark: You’re a hobo?
Chris: I was kind of a hobo with a BA. Yeah. I was a college kid with student loan debts.
Mark: Catch the next bus.
Chris: Yeah. But yeah, just real basic experiences where it’s like, “Am I going have a place to sleep tonight? Am I going to get out of the rain? Is this guy going to kill me? Am I going to have warm food in the next day or two?” Because I never traveled with stoves and shit like that. Like real basic shit like that. And I can remember I was with some dude and we were like under an awning, I think it might have been in Guatemala or something. And it was raining, and we were like, “Fuck. We’re stuck under this little awning until it stops raining, and who knows when that’s going to be.” And he had a cigarette and he passed me a cigarette. And I don’t smoke cigarettes and I’m kind of anti-tobacco. But I hit that cigarette, and I remember thinking like the last thing on my mind right now is lung cancer. That is So, far down the list of things I’m worried about then it’s liberating. I can enjoy this cigarette because I got So, many more immediate things to think about, but it’s actually liberation.
Kyle: And when you’re in those situations, you know what you do, you have to interact with people. And when you have to interact with them, you’re not looking for your differences. You’re trying to find common ground with that.
Chris: Exactly, right.
Kyle: Which is a totally different way from the cushy life where everybody’s trying to find a reason to be more righteous or more pissed off.
Mark: It’s a very good point.
Chris: Then what do we do when we have some money? The first thing we spend the money on is separation from other people. In Spanish, since I live in Spain, I love thinking about Spanish words. Aislarse means to insulate like a house, but it also means to isolate, to be isolated. It’s the same word. So, protection– the thing that makes you comfortable is the thing that separates you from other people.
Chris: And in convenience– sorry to interrupt you. I guess I’m just restating what you just said. The inconvenience is what puts you in touch with other people. And if you can buy your way out of inconvenience, if you can afford the bus ticket, then you’re not going to meet the people you would have met hitchhiking. If you can afford the fucking Uber, you’re not going to meet the guy you would have sat next to on the bus. The higher up you go until you find yourself alone in a private cab.
Kyle: And if you don’t think that you can learn something from all these people, you’re fooling yourself.
Chris: Yeah, exactly.
Kyle: So, Mark surfs professionally, but he also does this thing called Healey Water Ops where he takes people high-end extreme adventure scenarios. Like, all right, Chris, what do you want to do? Do you want to learn how to dive down the 60 feet in Fiji? We’re going to organize this boat. It’s like major operations.
Mark: It’s not supposed to feel like a major operation.
Kyle: But it is on the back of– a lot of these operations are for people who have– they’re the winners of society, but you are reconnecting them back with something that is So, basic. You’re doing things like what we did the other night where we’re eating opihi over the fire and fresh venison. And it’s this reminder to enjoy the moment, which hopefully, then carries over back into regular life. I always feel So, much less anxious about my life after a trip like this.
Chris: Right. So, what’s that like for you? Psychologically, that must be a really interesting situation, because you’re dealing with these people who are accustomed to having everything handed to them, and you’re saying no, no. I’ll keep you safe, but you got to do this yourself.
Kyle: Well, there are levels to it. So, there is definitely like I do a lot of the stuff where we’re going to the yacht and set up an itinerary, make sure everybody’s going to be safe, there’s going to be guests coming in, we have the children, getting marine biologists and working with them, educating them and having fun adventures. And then there’s the other end that’s a bit more gritty for sure, if people really want to challenge themselves. To me, it is psychologically super interesting, and it keeps me engaged and that’s why I love it because it’s a ton of work, and you’re dealing with an environment that there’s a reason why people don’t do this with the ocean. It’s changing all the time. It challenges me to the highest level of what I know with the ocean, and it also challenges me psychologically because you have to understand very quickly or think you have a gauge on the people. Because my main thing is like I will pour a gallon of gasoline on myself and light myself on fire if these people don’t have an amazing experience, or at least something that’s life changing–
Mark: He’s also a stuntman, which he has done that before.
Chris: Yeah. Interesting.
Kyle: I just have that mentality going in. It’s not something you can necessarily force, but the model is it starts with conversation. It starts with learning like getting a feel for what they value, what their group dynamic is, what they want to get out of it.
Chris: Do they come to you with an idea what they want to do, or do you provide it?
Mark: Sometimes, but usually, I end up providing it.
Mark: So, the conversation will usually start like, “Okay. What are you interested in? What’s your group dynamic? Are you coming with your family and your kids? Are you coming with just your college buddies or are you solo? What level of comfort do you want?”
Kyle: What do they normally say on the comfort level?
Mark: You always have to bump it up a notch something like that.
Chris: It’s like when you tell the doctor how many beers a week you drink, your doctor doubles it.
Mark: Are you a smoker? You have that, and then you go, “Well, what kind of climate do you want to be in and when is your time period to do this?” So, that’s going to let me determine whether it’s in northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere adventure. And then I go, “Okay. Here are the options that I’ve come up with. These are things that we can do here. This is kind of looking from above 10,000 feet version of it. What interests you most? We’ll further define that. We’ll go down that road.
Chris: Are you looking for things that feel more dangerous than they are?
Mark: No, no, because the really fascinating thing, which I like and why it’s such a challenge, besides being with incredibly intelligent, successful people, and I’ve gotten to learn So, much just from being around these people and I respect them for that, is that for the most part, they know if you’re throwing a red herring. These are smart people. They didn’t get to where they were by– they didn’t fall there. It usually ends up being like a lot of like young money, like a lot of tech, stuff like that.
Chris: You’re not working with people who inherited great wealth?
Mark: Not often, which is interesting. It’s usually an active like under 50 kind of group.
Chris: What kind of consistencies do you see? What have you learned? You said you learned a lot from these people.
Mark: Well, in general, just things that– well, I sign NDAs with things. There’s a lot of security clearances and stuff.
Chris: I’m not talking about stock tips. What have you learned about investing specifically?
Mark: You know what I’ve learned is that responsibility and success is exhausting, and that people need to be sometimes put in an environment that’s very simple where they can let go of that for a little bit.
Chris: So, you’re like the dominatrix who spanks the executive.
Mark: Dude, I’ve explained it like that, and I did not want to say that. It’s like our brains are connected.
Chris: I mean, I’ve been with a lot of dominatrix on my podcast and that’s a bit like highly successful people, very stressed out. They come to me So, things are simple and they can relax.
Mark: Yes. And I try to get like if it’s an active adventurous person who’s capable. Their safety is absolutely priority number one. I’ll never put them in a situation where the odds aren’t good for them.
Ben: Except bushwhacking too at the forbidden waterfall.
Mark: Yeah, you seem pretty fit.
Ben: It’s hard.
Mark: I think you had it.
Ben: It’s hard. I thought we’re going to die when we’re hanging off that cliff.
Chris: Ben Greenfield doesn’t seem pretty fit, Jesus. There’s no hope–
Ben: Maybe fit in body, but dude, even like on that beach, the island with no reception, for me, it’s So, hard. Like running a company and just thinking, “What if shit has gone south? What if there’s a fire I need to put out?
Mark: But it’s only one day, man.
Ben: I know. It’s So, hard to let go, though. That’s where my mind goes. It’s weird. I know my family is fine. It’s the business.
Mark: Yeah. Well, do you own the business or does the business own you?
Ben: Yeah. I mean, well honestly, it’s the latter right now. It’s a tricky part. Yeah. It’s a hard, hard lesson.
Chris: I see work is like a big dog. I think there are a lot of things this way. If that dog doesn’t know you’re the boss, it’s going to fucking tear up your sofa at best. Everything, it’s like you have to assert dominance.
Ben: It’s a tricky part because you can live a very comfortable life running a successful business, but you’re also tied to it. It becomes uncomfortable once you unplug and you’re like, “Oh, shit. I guess, I was working really hard, and all of a sudden I’m not and shit could go south.”
Kyle: Yeah, it was pretty funny as soon as you’re finally like, “Okay, I got to pull my laptop out of the backpack when we were waiting for the helicopter.” As soon as he busted that thing out, the helicopter showed up.
Ben: I started working on a talk because I got to give it next week, and then you could hear the helicopter rotors and I don’t know. Message from the heavens.
Kyle: It was these moments in between that we fear. So, I read this article in Psychology Today about how social media is affecting relationships, because a lot of times, if you’re with your partner, those moments of deepening in the relationship come after a period of silence. You think about that. You’re there across the dinner table with your partner. You’re silent then you think like, “Hey, should we take this to the next step?” or “Hey, I’ve been meaning to bring this up with you.”
Chris: Right. There’s something I need to say.
Kyle: But now, we don’t have boredom. Lucy Kay has that great bit about how we’re not bored. It used to be that you would just stand on the corner, and if you’re a little early, you just wait.
Chris: Stand there.
Kyle: You would just stand there. And I think that now like I have this anxiety when there’s something that we’re not doing.
Chris: Yeah. Well, that happened last night. I was through a series of confusions and I ended up in a house by myself. My phone was dead, the battery is dead. No TV. I didn’t have a book. I didn’t have my laptop. I didn’t have anything and the guys who were driving off, they’re like, “What are you going to do?” I was like, “I’ll be all right.” “But yeah, what are you going to do?”
Ben: Play headspace over and over and over again or what’s yours? Play the Waking Up app. Oh, you didn’t have an app.
Chris: I don’t have an app; my phone is dead. I got nothing. I’m a naked human being in an empty house.
Ben: We’re raised in a schooling system where you actually have stuff put on your plate to do, accomplish, check all the boxes over and over and over again. Because I’m researching heavily the process of unschooling my children right now and they’re dropping out of sixth grade to do this. And reading all these unschooling books, what comes up over and over and over again is boredom is good. Don’t feel like you have to fill in all the gaps.
Chris: Right. Unstretch your time.
Ben: Just let the kids go off and explore. And if they decide they’re going to sit inside and play video games, let them sit inside and learn from their video games. Just let there be downtime and boredom time because kids need that. That’s when they come up with their new ideas. That’s when they come up with creative ideas.
Chris: You see I think I’m from an earlier time. I don’t know how old you are, but definitely, you guys grew up in this much more structured parents taking you to soccer practice and this and that, and all this moving around.
Ben: Yeah. Always has to be someone’s schedule.
Chris: Yeah, man. When I was a kid, there was a siren, the fire siren that went off at 6:00 p.m. every night. And the only rule was be home for dinner at 6:00. And wherever I was, “Ooh.” I’m like, “Okay, got to go.” That was it. I go back out after until 9:00 or 10:00 at night playing just whatever. I feel like kids don’t do that anymore.
Ben: And look how you turned out.
Chris: I know.
Kyle: For me, it was my dad’s whistle. He had a loud whistle and I’d hear that from far away. It’s like, “Get your ass back home.”
Ben: For us, it was the sun. I grew up in Lewiston, Idaho. I was home-schooled So, we’d finished school by 11:00 and just go hike, playing on the hill. When the sun started to come down, you knew to go inside. It’s time for dinner. I think it’s a better way. I learned a lot.
Chris: You learned to be a person with nobody telling you what to do. I mean, fuck your cog in a machine otherwise.
Kyle: I think about that with hunting. At this point, I learned a ton having a guide there. But in a lot of ways, I learned more when I’m on my own hunting because I’m not following anyone’s path. I mean, when the guide stops moving, I stop moving. When they start moving, I start moving. And I’m not focusing on my surroundings nearly as much. I’m focusing on what they’re doing. And all of the sudden, when you remove them from the equation, it just opens up. And there’s a guy, I forget his name, he wrote the book The Coddling of the American Mind, and he talks about kids and how important it is to let the kids work out a conflict on their own and not step in immediately, and how often they can work it out. It doesn’t end in this Hunger Game as bloodbath that we all assume it will, but it allows them to grow in the same way that a hunting experience. For me, when I’m alone, as long as I have the basic infrastructure to know what to do, know that I’ll be safe, you learn a lot more quickly.
Ben: Unless it’s spearfishing. For me, spearfishing like I go down there and I’m like, “What fish do I shoot? Where do I go? Am I in the right spot? Am I okay? Am I going to pass out? Do I shoot that fish? Will that one poison me? Is that one illegal?” And then when I’m down there with waterman, Mark Healey here, it’s just So, simply. He’ll point that fish, shoot that line. Somebody’s up there on the surface watching me. It’s such a more pleasant experience with a guide sometimes, especially when you don’t know what to do.
Chris: In the early days.
Mark: And that’s the way I tried to teach the things that I am knowledgeable in, and that’s part of my personal standard for the business is because as I’ve been doing this Healey Water Ops saying and everything, I’ve noticed that the people that are kind of doing a piece of what I’m doing here or there, they really try to hobble the people they work for because they’re afraid that they’re going to be obsolete if they learn too much. And what I always want to do– because it’s going to challenge me. It’s like, “I want to teach this person and tell them every step So, they can do this to this level on their own.”
Ben: That’s the way healthcare should be. We should be teaching preventative medicine and patients how to care for them, but the idea is you go to the doctor when you’re sick, you take the medicine when you’re sick versus you actually being able to survive on your own.
Mark: I think you have to want to be able to embrace challenge. For me, I’m like I would love for you to be exactly at your level if you go diving six months from now and not lose any of that and I’d be stoked on that, because if we did it again and again, it’s just going to push me to get better. Like, I have to learn how to be a better teacher and a better communicator. And at the end of the day, it’s going to make me better by trying to make other people better.
Kyle: You’re making an interesting point to me last night, Mark, around the campfire. I asked you, what do you think the most dangerous stage is for spear fisherman? And you said it’s between the beginner and intermediate stage. You said it because you can teach people a few tricks that get their breath hold really good, it gets them feeling really comfortable in the water and all of a sudden, they feel like Superman. And they go from zero to a hundred way too quickly, and that’s what I think that having guides and mentors can be very valuable to push you forward because a lot of times, people don’t know what they can do, but they also don’t know their limits. And when you’re dealing with something like the ocean free diving, I think free diving is the second most dangerous sport behind base jumping as far as deaths, is that correct?
Mark: That would make sense.
Ben: Chess and ping-pong are probably up there.
Kyle: Yeah, 100%.
Mark: Or playing Scrabble with no scrabble dictionary. That’s knife fights.
Kyle: Down the Brooklyn Yard. Those chess games can get intense. Yeah. I mean, you mess one spearfishing and its game over.
Mark: Well, it’s breath-holding is that risk of blackout, and I find the same thing because I do a lot of work with sharks and I’ve done a lot of stuff with film and getting people comfortable around big animals. And they go from being like, “This is bullshit. There’s no way. You must be a freak, a different kind of human to be able to do this.” I’m like, “No. I’m going to introduce you to this. This is the process.” And then, within like two days, they’re doing stuff that they never even conceived to be possible for themselves. And it’s like a drug. It’s a crazy experience.
Ben: And it’s very simple. I mean, something as simple like you told me I was freaking out with my ears last night, and you told me just start equalizing right away. Scratch the rocks and all of a sudden like twice as many fish came in when I started scratching the rocks as I was down there, So, the little tips just make this huge difference.
Mark: Yeah. If we dove two more days, I’d be getting you down to 50 feet and then you’d be scratching on the bottom and you’d be losing track of time because this fish is almost in and you’re like, “Okay. I identify this fish now, and it’s a really good one, and I’d be hitting a home run if I got this fish.”
Ben: Not enough time to get to the surface.
Mark: Yeah, you’re blacking out. So, with the diving and the shark thing, I’ve never gone from the person inspiring and teaching to the annoying grandma within three days. I’m like, “No, pump the brakes. Come back. We’re around big animals. Don’t pop your head up and go talking to people. You respect it. Keep your eyes on it.”
Kyle: Especially when you have those personalities that like to progress really quickly, and a lot of those people that you’re taking out, they’re successful, they’re badasses, they have that mindset where they know that they can go out there and kick ass and achieve something.
Ben: What do you like more? Spearfishing or bow hunting?
Mark: Oh, god. Don’t make me choose. Bow hunting is still new to me. I’ve only been doing it for six years. I love spearfishing. Do you know what’s So, great about both of them is that you can just connect into this– you get to choose your company, you get to be in absolute wilderness, and you can pick your company. I said that already.
Kyle: What do you mean? The guys that you can bring with you?
Mark: Exactly. When you’re tired of the day-to-day bullshit and pageantry that you have to go through with civil society and you need a break, you can go and get that and totally recharge and come back with enough energy to put up with society’s bullshit again for a little while ’til the next time you get to go out.
Ben: Yeah. It’s different than a walk in the woods. To walk in the woods with a weapon and a goal and it’s just a totally different feel and the big, big prize and a rush at the end.
Mark: And it beats you down, too. You fail So, much and it’s a teacher that isn’t going to coddle you. And you know those lessons. You just got to eat them. You’re not going to argue with nature. You’re like, “Okay. Yeah, I have an ego, but even if I have an ego, I have to swallow this one.”
Kyle: I’d imagine it’s been interesting for you too, Mark, because you’ve been doing it for six years, you’re getting into it, but for the average person that doesn’t hunt, they have no idea what the difference is between you and the Justin Lee who’s been doing it since he was nine.
Mark: Yeah, I do because I hunt with them.
Kyle: You do. Yeah, right. Hunters know that. But I would imagine that you have to pump the brakes on your own like, “Hey, yeah, I’m getting into it,” but there are some fucking ninjas out here that have been doing it since they were seven years old.
Mark: Oh, totally. And there’s something and I really know this from spearfishing. You develop this sixth sense. You know something’s going to happen. There might not be anything around you. You’re like, “I need to put a drop-down behind this rock. There’s like static electricity.
Ben: You listen to your intuition.
Mark: Yeah, and it works, man. And being around hunters who have done it and that are connected with an animal and terrain where you see that happen, where they make a move and there’s not necessarily like a practical reason for it, and they might not even be able to explain why they did it, and it’s completely successful.
Ben: Well, I want to go in and check in on the hunting stories from these guys that just came in from the field and maybe help prep some dinner here.
Kyle: Yeah. Thanks, everyone.
Mark: It’s fun.
Ben: That was a fun little roundtable.
Kyle: Yeah, and radical last couple days. Thanks for facilitating, Mr. Healey.
Mark: Good times.
Ben: Amazing. Hey, let’s do a round where folks can find folks. You want to?
Ben: All right.
Kyle: Chris Ryan.
Chris: I got a website. What’s it called? thatchrisryan.com or my podcast is tangentially speaking, and I’m ThatChrisRyan on social media.
Ben: ThatChrisRyan, not the other one. Just very similar. Either Ben Greenfield or Ben Greenfield Fitness on social media. And hopefully, T-man lets me push this one out on my podcast too So, you might even be already listening to this on my podcast.
Mark: So, yeah, Mark Healey. Instagram, HealeyWaterOps, H-E-A-L-E-Y-W-A-T-E-R-O-P-S and HealeyWaterOps.com.
Kyle: I was really disappointed when you change the handle from DonkeyShow.
Mark: Man, when you’re taking people’s kids and they’re entrusting you with their lives, can I have an Instagram named DonkeyShow?
Kyle: He has @donkeyshow for a while.
Mark: Yeah, I was going around the world and there’s like little kids in Mexico like, “DonkeyShow,” I’m like, “Oh, man.” “Oh, look. There’s Uncle DonkeyShow.”
Kyle: Kyle Thiermann. You can find me on Pornhub.
Ben: T-H-I-E-R, right?
Kyle: T-H-I-E-R-M-A-N-N. I have a podcast. I’m on all of the places. And this is a blast, guys.
Ben: Sick. Thanks. I took a 45-minute absence to go call my wife and kids, So, sorry about disappearing.
Kyle: All good.
Ben: Forgiven, might I guess.
Kyle: See you.
Well, thanks for listening to today’s show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I’ve ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
In today’s podcast, I am joined by my friends Kyle Thiermann, Chris Ryan, and Mark Healey for witty banter, philosophizing, and intellectually stimulating conversation straight from the island of Hawaii.
We – along with several others mentioned in this podcast episode, such as Dr. Peter Attia, Kyle Kingsbury, and Hawaii hunting guide, Justin Lee – took a break from hunting, hiking, spearfishing and dressing meat to gather ’round the podcasting mics.
In this conversation, you’ll hear…
-A recap of the trip…6:47
- Chris was a last minute substitute
- Primal surroundings: goat head in the back of the pickup
- They were all dropped off by helicopter on various spots on the Big Island
- Ben engaged in spearfishing; caught Hawaiian lobster, opi’i fish
- Impossible to replicate their meals in a restaurant
-Ben is asked about consuming energy bars while facing dehydration…12:17
- If you’re in an extreme dehydration situation, you’re probably starving to death, so don’t throw them out
- They could potentially be used as a water filter because they’re so thick
- Coffeeand beer don’t actually dehydrate you
- Energy barshave moisture in them
- Depends on salt content, moisture level, etc.
-How ranchers on the island of Kaho’olawe used goats to prevent sharks from attacking their herd…14:05
- Sharks would attack as they were loaded onto ships for transport
- Ranchers pushed a herd of goats tied to each other off a cliff
- The cattle was transported while the sharks feasted on the goats
-Discussion about the sustainability of humans hunting their own meat in the modern world…15:30
- Hunting is necessary in Hawai’i for sustainability of the land
- It’s not cheaper when you factor in ammo, time spent hunting, obtaining permits, etc.
- Large amounts of money from hunting is invested into environmental sustainability
- Eradication vs. management
- Killing an animal is a deeply personal experience
- Everyone who eats meat should hunt at least once
- We are what we eat: cruelty, apathy, torture, etc.
-How our thoughts shape our health…27:00
-Our understanding of human history as it pertains to resilience toward stress…33:04
- Research suggests we become more sensitive to stress rather than more resilient
- Chronic stressors (business responsibilities) our ancestors didn’t deal with
- Experiencing stress without realizing it, or thinking you’re relaxed
- Difference between stress and excitement
- Alpha vs. beta brain waves
- Alpha: what you experience in “the flow”; familiar, happy, focused
- Beta: Higher level of excitement; less predictability
- Parasympathetic vs. sympathetic nervous system
- Sympathetic: fight and flight nervous system
- Parasympathetic: rest and digestive nervous system
- Vagus nerve feeds into the sinoatrial node of the heart
- You want high heart rate variability (HRV)
- Vagus nerve is operating the parasympathetic system properly
- Meditating, chanting, cold water assist with maintaining high HRV
-How stress affects rigor mortis (in hunted game) and cramping…41:35
- Deer reach rigor mortis in 20 minutes when corralled (stressed) and over an hour when killed in the wild
- You cramp in stressful situations while exercising due to calcium release
- Sour, spicy taste overrides neuronal reflex
- Golgi tendon organlimits the contraction, but is overridden by neuronal reflex
- Other animals don’t have this, and put far more stress on their muscles
- When mom lifts a car to save the baby, the brain, because of extreme stress, overrides the golgi tendon organ
- Brain over brawn: why humans have the golgi tendon organ and other animals don’t
-The evolving understanding of convenience vs. an appreciation of our history…49:00
- Infant formula: no colostrum, fatty acid,
- Breast milk is a fatty, highly addictive food; you’d be obese if you drank it all your life
- The microbiome is a gift to the environmental movement
- Your surroundings impact your gut health
-Whether or not bottled water is cleaner and safer than tap water…56:20
-Why Hawai’i is so freaking amazing…1:03:50
- Hawai’i had cattle ranchers before California
- Beach as well as mountain culture
- Cultural holocaust: Christian missionaries
- Hawaiian language stayed alive in the cattle ranchers:
- It was more functional
- Perhaps reflective of the number of colors, sights, and scents in Hawai’i
- Akin to why podcasts are popular: you can break down concepts you can’t on CNN
-How Mark Healy narrowly escaped death while surfing in Fiji…1:09:45
- Grew up on North Shore of Oahu; got noticed by important surfer dudes
- Ended up going to Fiji for his first professional trip at age 14; had visualized Fiji for years
- Was in one of the most iconic surfing photos in history
-Is Nature really the violent, nasty, brutish force we’re led to believe it is…1:24:30
- Hobbes: Everything eats life
- Things that appear to be important are not in evolutionary terms
- Human chin – where two bones come together
- An arrow is a much better way to die than dying in nature
- We speak of death as though it’s not going to happen
- Non-Western cultures celebrate death
- Perhaps explains animosity surrounding hunting
-Differing perspectives on how we relate our life experiences to others…1:31:45
- Narrative: knowing which dots to connect, and what to leave out
- Being present and in the moment vs. on auto-pilot
- Writing the story before it happens
- Specificity is key. Too much information is overwhelming, prevents people from taking action (for example, charity donations)
-The role of fire and water in the history of human evolution…1:39:20
- Source of food, amusement, protection, comfort
- Movement of fire is reflected in the nature of human consciousness
- They can alter landscapes, be very destructive
- Large swaths of the Amazon have been cleared by fire
- Podcasts around a fire never work well
- Water is the greatest source of “awe” that we know of
-Perceived scarcity vs. real scarcity…1:43:05
- People with nothing live as though they have everything. People with everything live as though there’s not enough
- Perspective, born of experience, helps to understand the disparity between real and perceived scarcity
- We spend money to isolate ourselves from others as soon as we get it
- Inconvenience puts you in touch with other people (hitch-hiking, taking the bus)
-Mark describes his business, Healy Water Ops…1:49:40
- Many of the clients are very wealthy and successful in business and life
- They know a red herring when they see or hear it
- They enjoy having Mark run the show, tell them what to do; it allows them to relax for a bit
-Running a business, unschooling, and why we need to restore boredom in our culture…2:00:30
- Treat your business like a big dog; assert dominance
- We don’t have boredom anymore with social media, smartphones, etc.
- Silence often precedes a maturation in a relationship
- Learn how to hunt without a guide; self-taught
- Allow kids to work out conflict on their own
- Preventive medicine
-And much more.
Resources From this Episode:
-Article: The History of Hawaiian Cowboys
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