I was brought up a Baptist, which meant I got to choose when I was ready to receive my baptism. I remember that moment well, and apparently I enjoyed it so much that I continue to find new ways to clean away my “sins” and begin anew.
Being possessed of a certain curmudgeonly, uptight demeanor (a good friend and college roommate of mine summed me up this way: “Drew is the most pessimistic optimist I know.” Thanks Tim.), while I do ultimately believe that everything will work out for the best (yay!) I do it while complaining or generally being not-particularly-fun to be around (boo!).
It’s been a problem, and something I have had to fight to change for years. I’m not clinical, you won’t see me taking meds for being a grump (though if you hear of any, you know who to call). Still, I needed to figure out how to hit the reset button once stress built up and had nowhere to go but at friends and family. I created The Attitude Adjustment.
The Attitude Adjustment entailed first, taking a long, hot bath. Once I decided I was well and cooked, I turned on a very cold shower and let the water in the bath drain, making sure I am submerged in the hot water when it starts. As the hot water lowers, I become more exposed to the cold water until I decide to stand up and embrace the cold shower. It was fantastico.
As I’ve grown older, my coping mechanisms have developed more, which is great, because the places that we have been traveling to these last few years now, they don’t really have bathtubs. Still, raising a kid has upped the stress considerably, especially when you consider he just started walking and effing loves going up and down stairs, man. SHEEEIT.
We came to Rishikesh over a week ago, and were supposed to have left by now, but we are fairly smitten with the place, so we have extended our trip here a bit. Even though this is an incredibly spiritual town, full of western hippies coming to get their yoga and ayurvedic massage-on, we’ve used this time to work our asses off. Those first several days, I did not do a good job at all handling the stress of getting used to a new place, having a child who’s fifth tooth was on it’s way out, and working until 1:30 in the morning.
Something needed to be done. I knew I was being a pain in the ass. Which is to say, I am pretty sure I would have known I was a pain in the ass even if Christine hadn’t pointed it out to me. A few times… Thankfully, Rishikesh comes equipped with it’s own reset button, it’s own baptism, a place millions, if not billions have washed away a lifetime of sin throughout history:
When I envisioned getting to see Mother Ganga, I figured it would be in Varanasi, a place where the Ganges is known for it’s filth as much as for it’s beauty, and where I would never dare bathe. I am already full-on equipped with major paranoia about India’s water, so I wasn’t expecting what I found in Rishikesh – that the water coming down from the Himalayas seemed relatively clean and bracingly cold. I knew I had to do it, but even then, it took watching the wife go through it that I finally mustered the nerve.
The day after Christine went in, I excused myself during one of Cole’s naps and made my way for the beach. I could have walked ten meters to go in where the ghats allowed people to step in gingerly, but felt that since this wasn’t a “spiritual” sort of experience for me, I should leave the ghats for those who find them more holy than I do.
Fully clothed in shorts and t-shirt, I walked in. I did not stop until I was neck deep in, and I immediately flashed back to the Tough Guy race, the main difference being I knew when I stepped out of the water, the weather would be warm. IT WAS SO EFFING COLD. I was distantly aware of laughter coming from an Indian swimming a little further out from where I was. I looked over, trying desperately to stop gasping for air and looking foolish, at this kid who was swimming freestyle around me. Taunting me I immediately thought.
“It’s cold!” He says. Genius.
“Yea-ah-yeah!” I replied with the best casual smile I could muster, not being able to get a single word out smoothly.
I dunked my head under three times, as I had seen others doing. I needed to make it “official”. FFFFFFFffff crap, so cold. Then like the stubborn showoff I am, I decide to float around for a minute just to show I could keep my sh*t together. I wasn’t pulling it off. I went in a fourth time just to make sure I was good to go, and headed back up to shore. I came out sopping from head-to-toe, my entire body tingling from the cold, now exposed to warm air.
I felt alive. I felt fantastic. I went back upstairs, took a shower, shaved my head and face and went back to work.