Colin O' Brady is actively seeking to be the first man to trek across Antarctica solo without aid or support, and today he is on his 36th day.
His daily recitation is chop wood, carry water.
Everyday he has to pack his supplies, trek approximately 17 miles, and pitch his tent again. He attributes consistency in the unglamorous as the key to his success as a pro-endurance athlete.
I interpret this phrase also as the importance of mundanity. Not only should we be consistent in practice, but we should also indulge guiltlessly in the mundane, like cooking and cleaning.
I am a big believer in the value of manual labor. Some may view chores as a "waste of time" (which is certainly true in poorer parts of the world where girls can spend up to 14 hours per week hand-washing laundry instead of being at school).
However for most of us, manual chores can serve as a mental break from our larger goals. Taking care of your children, washing the dishes, or shoveling snow are tasks that are also good for you physically. Furthermore, these menial errands can be meditative, anchoring you in the visceral world during this technology-driven age.
There is no denying that our lives will become much more virtual than physical, as automation and outsourcing help us lead more efficient lives. But what will be left if all we prioritize time for is (1) relentlessly pursuing our goals, and/or (2) hedonistic leisure?
Chop wood and carry water is a daily reminder of our human condition. Rather than focusing on leaving a legacy or maximizing impact, by sculpting the next David or building the next Google, sometimes it's refreshing to live simply in the mundane.