What Prepares You for the Day?
The Medium Writing Prompt
219122

How to take a shower

According to my late grandfather


The driver didn’t see me. He pulled out in front of me in the rain. My bicycle struck the car and I landed on the tarmac on the other side of it. The result was a concussion.

The doctors said to continually monitor my situation. My parents took that very seriously and called in my grandparents to watch over me while they were at work. My grandparents, in turn, took their job very seriously and did not leave me out of sight.

My grandfather thus accompanied me when I wanted to take a shower, leaving no room for gaps in the monitoring. What happened next was that a sense of later generations having it easier than his trumped compassion for his concussed grandson. So when I turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, he simply said “You’re not done yet.”

In his view, if a shower had warm water involved you had to finish with cold water to “close the pores”. Leaving the shower with “open pores” was something he considered unhealthy for the body. The mind too, he explained, benefits, and you leave the shower refreshed, ready for a productive day. So I dutifully stepped back in to close my pores and freshen my concussed brain by turning the shower dial all the way to cold.

My grandfather was right. It is wonderfully refreshing, and I have been doing it ever since.

I even incorporated an additional piece into the ritual.

When I took an interest in freediving, I learned about the mammalian dive reflex. The phenomenon lowers your heart rate when you are immersed in water. Interestingly, the effect is triggered by receptors in your skin around the mouth and nose so your entire body doesn’t have to be under water.

My end-of-shower routine now starts with my grandfather’s refreshing cold water gush. I then turn around to put my face directly in the chilly water stream. The mammalian dive reflex kicks in, and what might seem stressful is supremely relaxing. My pulse drops to around fifty beats per minute.

This way, I start my mornings feeling not only refreshed but relaxed.