30 days of cold showers
I’ll warn you, that title is the worst. This little piece is not even close to being as interesting as it might suggest.
I had been traveling for a few months at this point. At least that’s what I was telling myself. While physically it was true, mentally, well it was about as far from reality as we could get. Some part of me — for as long as I can remember — has been so far away. Some part of me has wanted to follow that elusive something that I know exists just over the horizon, even though I might not know quite what it is.
Here I stood, watching water shooting from a shower-head and asking myself who I wanted to be. It’s about as routine and unexciting an image as there can be. Every now and then, one of the water-droplet grenades would shatter and send a few drops to my bare skin; they would hit and I would shiver. That’s what you do when things are cold, and this water was probably the coldest water there ever was (it wasn’t). “Does no one in Thailand use hot water?” I had asked myself the same question the day before and the day before that, and both days I failed to arrive at an answer that I would be ok with.
I stood there. I stood there. I stood there.
And, for good measure, I stood there.
Right there, in the most uninspiring of moments, it made sense. I had an infinite amount of options available to me, some literally right in front of me, and I was wasting away.
I am change, hear me roar
Here’s the difficult truth we do so well at avoiding — in order to inspire change, we have to embody the change we are wanting. If we’re standing there — frozen and shivering — then what impetus does the world have to change for us? Our immobility tells the world that we are rigid; we are incapable of change. So why should change happen for us?
Standing in front of an ice shower, my options were all around me, but I was fixated on only one of them. When I say there are an infinite amount of possibilities, I really mean it. I could have done any of the following:
- Not showered. By doing so, everyone else would have to live with my indecision.
- Boiled some water and then given myself a bucket shower. Time intensive? Sure. High chance at killing myself? Absolutely.
- Threw up my hands, booked a flight elsewhere in the world, stumbled into a hotel, and demanded hot water.
- Hell, in that case, I could have hired a motorcycle, driven to the nearest hot spring, and resolved myself to smelling like sulfur.
- Channeled my inner high-schooler and doused myself in a potent combination of body sprays.
Those are just a handful of my options. I could have splashed a little water on myself. I could have rolled around in the wet grass and hoped that I would somehow end up smelling like morning dew. I could have even stopped showering entirely and committed myself to the hermit lifestyle.
Or I could stop hiding from reality — the best option wasn’t going to be easy. I could either stand just outside of the spray, waiting for something to change, or I could get life rolling again by taking a single step forward.
I stepped into the water and it was cold. Of course it was; that wasn’t going to change. But this was the path I had decided on. This was the option that I was going to take and it was one that I was going to live with.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize: it takes some level of insanity to become the change that you are waiting for. When you realize that you want the world to change in some way, there’s a split-second — right when you know what it is that you want — that you have to commit yourself to being wild. You have to be ready to raise your arms over your head and roar like a lion/ness roaming the Serengeti. Or you can just get a determined look on your face and nod, that works as well.
That split-second is just that — a split-second before “reason ” kicks in. It’s a split-second where an overwhelming desire for change rules supreme. But then, unless something happens, it gets stifled. We start to think about all of the obstacles, all of the concerns, and everything else that could go wrong.
Lots of things are going to go wrong. That’s part of life.
It’s a new year and that means a chance for new opportunities. Or you can tell that line of thinking to go straight to hell. Opportunities are always available. “I want to lose weight,” “I want to quit smoking,” “I want to see the world.” Then do it. Not next week, not tomorrow, not even later today. Right now. Stop reading this article and do it. Put down the doughnut and go for a walk around the office. Take your cigarettes and throw them in the most disgusting trash-bin you can find. Scour the streets for a penny; pick up the first one you see and put it in a travel jar. Be wild.
I stood there in front of the shower and realized that I was resolving myself — by standing complacent — to a life of dreading the future. I asked myself who I wanted to be. Did I want to be someone who stood by and watched as life happened, or did I want to be part of that happening? Did I want to get caught up and shape the world into what I wanted it to be? Did I want to be wild and put myself in situations that could make life weird and wonderful? (Hint: I absolutely did).
I stepped into the shower. It was bloody freezing.
27 days of cold showers later, my landlord would inform me that he forgot to turn on my hot water.
But really, who cares?