17.2.07

Plunged

Today I participated in the annual Polar Plunge in Madison to benefit the Special Olympics. Brad at LIB jumped shortly after I did, although his group didn't have any pirates.

I wrote about taking the Plunge a few years ago as my descriptive speech for CA 105. Because I'm lazy, and I'm not above recycling old material, that is what follows:

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It was early on a Saturday morning. I was still groggy, but it was probably better that I didn’t fully feel what I was about to do. On a sweltering summer day, a dip in Lake Monona may be refreshing, but in the middle of February, I had a feeling it might be a tad bit chilly.

Everyone else around was bundled up like Ralphie's brother in “The Christmas Story.” I felt out of place in just a pair of black swimming trunks, exposed to the elements. I couldn’t tell which was worse, the wind searing my uncovered back like a branding iron, or the ice burning my bare feet like smoldering coals. An icy hand pressed on my chest, slowing my breathing, and keeping my heart at a slow, steady beat. As I stood on the threshold, about to dive into the abyss, and I looked into the cool blue water, I questioned what I was doing this for. The Special Olympics? I couldn’t help thinking, “Are they really that special?” But it was too late to back out. I held my breath, and I jumped.

The water was cold. Very cold. As cold as, well, ice. It was so cold that a month later, when waiting for the bus to come in twenty degree weather with forty mile an hour winds blowing snow in my face, I would remember being in the lake and think, “This isn’t that cold.” It was so cold that I had to wait a week before my testicles dropped. It was so cold that I still get goose bumps remembering it.

My body couldn’t take in the shock of the water. I didn’t feel cold. I didn’t feel wet. I didn’t feel anything. But through the numbness, there was something else. The floodgates holding my last remaining energy reserves opened and adrenaline surged through my body. This was the ultimate splash of cold water to the face. I had taken the plunge, let the icy waters sap my body of all my heat, all my strength, all my feeling, yet now, I had more energy, more, intensity, more awareness than ever before.

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