In life it’s often necessary to convince oneself to do something one doesn’t want to do, in order to realize future rewards (physical, financial, emotional).
I experience this life truth in microcosm, every morning I swim in San Francisco Bay in the winter. I hate getting up early (I’m a night-owl — always have been). I hate it even more when it’s dark outside; even more when it’s cold outside. And most of all, when the reason for doing so is swimming, nearly naked, in 49-degree water.
Yet it must be done. Because no one ever says, “I really regret swimming today.” Even when the water’s 49 degrees. Perhaps especially when it’s 49 degrees.
Immersion is painful. There’s no avoiding it, even with repetition. Yet nothing makes me feel more alive. And there’s a reason for that: Pain is my body’s evolved, automatic response to encountering an environment that cannot sustain human life. “GTFO,” my body says at first.
When I refuse, the pain fades after a few minutes, and in its place arises a powerful warmth, which keeps the forces of death at bay (for a while).…