The temperature shot up well over 100 degrees inside the former Cumberland County Civic Center, and the air was so heavy with moisture, it felt as if a thick, sticky layer of marshmallow fluff blanketed the crowd. That quintessential New England confectionary substance serves up a fitting image for what became an extreme exercise in physical self-endurance. It’s amazing how little effect hydration has on the body in instances of severe heat and humidity.

More pointedly, the discomfort people like myself willingly subject ourselves to in devotion to the arts and entertainment we love can often seem like more of a practice in fortitude than one of bliss. I imagine this is what marathon runners and other dedicated athletes engage in for that visceral, thrill-seeking experience.

As I’ve spent the past few weeks engaging in some of my favorite summertime activities—traveling across the country, visiting friends, and catching as much live music as I can—the above example in Portland, Maine was one of the more extreme environments I was exposed to, yet it was hardly the only challenge I faced in pursuit of personal fulfillment. A few nights camping along the Columbia River in Washington State presented an enchanting reminder of the value modern amenities afford, as well as the bountiful rewards in nature that exist while abstaining from everyday comforts. It all helps place into perspective the inevitable trials and tribulations that arise. Like when the FOH audio console suddenly malfunctions and blows out the entire sound system in front of a crowd 20,000 strong; the dumbfounded band continues to play because, well, what else can they do?

All of these recent adventures of mine are part of the larger struggle in life. As I’ve taken them from personal to public to business iterations of myself, the lessons remain largely the same. There’s an end game we’re all striving for, no matter how basic or insignificant it may seem. There’s a payoff of some sort dangling as bait somewhere ahead; it’s easy to lose sight of and wonder, ‘what’s the use?’

It all circles back to the big picture of why, as individuals, we got started in the audiovisual field in the first place. Armed with a checklist of goals sprouting up along the way, we need to stay true to our values when faced with diversions. Most of us are in it for the long haul. Whatever the extreme conditions we endure, somewhere there’s a reason, a fundamental truth that often requires us to return to our roots to uncover the key to. For me, it’s a love for live music, and the great outdoors is a vehicle for finding my way back. What’s your use?