I woke up, December 26th, and had 102 things run through my head about what I need to do, who I want to be, and where I want to go. Sometimes my mind is chaos. After considering a yoga class or walk around the neighborhood, I landed on heading towards the foothills. I needed solitude with Mama Nature. Some one-on-one time to clear my mind and calm down.
Getting out of the house, I had two pairs of shoes along with the ones on my feet, my digital camera and the wonky tripod, my journal, a smoothie, and water. Overloaded, I headed towards Lory State Park. I was prepared for a run, or a hike, a journal sesh, or maybe a photography walk (something I never do but it was on the list of 102 things I could do so I brought it along just in case #stayready). The choices overwhelmed once again and I sat in the back of my car and looped thoughts about what I need to do, who I want to be, and where I want to go.
I grabbed the journal and titled one of the few remaining pages with the date and location and time. It is at this moment in recalling the story about how I ended up butt naked in a reservoir in winter that memory escapes me. How did I go from clothed and prepared to write to lacing up my boots and grabbing the towel that I so conveniently keep stored in my car? I couldn’t tell ya but there I was. Parked 500 yards from the receded waters edge, I trudged left towards a patch of flowing water accessible from the bank and deep enough to submerge. The reservoir was otherwise frozen over. At a balmy 45 degrees and wind blowing, I undressed, looked around for a Peeping Tom, dropped the towel, and walked into the water.
I have no memory of what was going through my mind at this point other than, GET IN THE WATER and BREATHE. Immediately, I wanted to get out. Finding stillness, I couldn’t believe I was actually in the water and enduring it. My body deliberately put into stress mode, adrenaline pumped through me. 45 seconds later, I got out. At this point, wrapped in a towel and my toes white against the red mud, I knew I had to get back in. Round one was only half a plunge. I looked at the video briefly and my entire back was out. With no time to dilly dally in the wind, I dropped the towel without even caring who may have been in sight, not that anyone was, and submerged deeper, up to my chest. This being the second time, I knew what to expect when the rush of GET OUT screamed in my head. I took deep, loud, harsh breaths and stayed in another 45 seconds.
Exiting the water round two, I was tasked with getting dressed and getting back to the car. The feeling of putting my shirt and jacket back on my cold body was a wild tingling sensation like I have never experienced, the warm blood rushing back to the extremities. My feet were not so pleasant. Hobbling back up to the car on peg leg feet, I knew I needed to get the heat blasting and the blood circulating. Warming the feet was painful, no lie about that. The deep breathing returned along with absolute elation. I fucking did it. I did a hard thing. I did a thing that made me feel most alive.
The act of cold plunging has been on my radar for a while now. I heard it on a few podcasts, an influencer I follow does it every morning, and a dude at the bar was telling me about his backyard set up using a repurposed horse trough and a few bags of gas station ice a couple times a week. The curiosity stirred. What was on the other side of doing something so uncomfortable? What did these people who were doing it know that I didn’t yet?
So I walked in the water and I submerged my body and I found out.
In deliberately choosing to be uncomfortable, I shatter the chaos. I shock the system back to the present, that cold water screaming against my body. The mind flared, alert to the demands of being exactly in that moment.
I found out. I’ll keep finding out. I hope you do too.
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