Cold Water / Full Immersion

How long is too long?

It is excellent to concretely understand and respect your physical limits, temporary as they might be.

Fifteen minutes in the 51 degree waters of Puget Sound is currently it for me. 10 minutes the day before felt fine – invigorating once the pain receded. I’m sure the unseasonably warm day helped, too. But 15 minutes in the brine gave me numb tongue and a few other signs of mild hypothermia.

So, current limit reached? Check!

“But doesn’t that feel awful?” Yes. The first few minutes suck. Seriously. After that, not so much, mostly because the circulation in the extremities shuts down a little bit. The body is so cool.

“So what the hell are you doing it for? Does it make you feel more badass or something?” Sure, it is pretty cool to do something others shy away from and shrug like it is no big thing (while focussing on getting the feeling to return to your fingers and toes.) And at 44 I will take all the badass I can get, thank you very much.

“Jesse, did you join some sort of cult that worships ancient gods of freezing water and that tingling sensation that feels a hell of a lot like pain?” Yep, and the leader’s name is Wim Hof, the Iceman. Crazy guy. Cold showers, hyperventilating, and feeling ‘luminous.’ I haven’t seen lights yet, but once my pineal gland is consciously activated I am promised that will happen, too. Cool.

“Honestly man, is this some middle-aged attempt to impress the ladies?” Nope. I am pretty sure Micki thinks this is pretty stupid, or crazy, probably both. She certainly isn’t enticed by watching my overweight torso get all shivery and red from the cold. And my poor track record for respecting my limits makes her a bit nervous I think. But she is being an awesome cheerleader/voice-of-reason anyways.

“Is there a plan or a goal in mind?” Yep. To stay in the cold water for a much longer period of time.

“So, um, what the hell are you doing it for?”

There is important power in keeping a secret. I learned this as an actor in Seattle during the early 00’s. Often actors are asked ‘How did you make that moment so real?’ or ‘What were you thinking when your character had that intense moment?’ And the novice actor will describe, in great detail, the thoughts and emotional processes used in creating the character and the setup for their inspirational moments on stage or screen. And slowly, a few days/performances/takes later, they begin to feel it: the moment isn’t as strong or as potent. Some of the energy has disappeared, the feelings seem turned down or dampened, momentum is being lost. They panic and mash at the psychological buttons, but to no avail – the feeling is slipping away, moment by moment, until it is lost and you feel like a fraud.

The energy has gone out of the idea.

If you are committed and reliant you start over from scratch and layer by layer build it all up again.

Or, in my case, quit and move on to the next inspiration.

So, instead of saying anything and giving it all up in a week or a month, I will keep my reason for spending time freezing my butt off to myself. I will not tell all my friends how cool this new idea is, how they should do it too, how we should compare stats and oh-yeah-we-definitely-need-to-start-a-Facebook-group. I am not going to tell my family how I am losing weight or gaining muscle, feeling more focussed, drinking less, living healthier than I have ever ever before because of this thing.

I am just going to do it and see what happens. I will look at the details on the map and admire the view along the way, but I’m not going to tell anyone where I am going.

Okay, Micki knows.

Well, Micki and one of the neighbors. But only because there is also power is saying words aloud. Words can also make ideas take on a feeling of reality.

See you after the next freeze-fest.





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