There’s something really special about paddling in the sea in the middle of winter. The air temperature today is hovering just around freezing. The sand is hard and unforgiving and the water is icy.
In that first barefoot moment the shock is almost unbearable. The pain in my feet makes me yell but I stick with it and keep moving through the water. Then comes a growing numbness which pushes the pain further up my body. It’s at that point the adrenaline kicks in. The warmth in my body starts to kick against the cold in my feet and a war at a molecular level starts. I can visualise this border between heat and cold. I imagine the blood slowing at this boundary, thickening, stopping; turning my feet into lead. All pain stops here.
It’s at this point I know that I only have minutes before I need to get out of the water but I stay. I hold on to that pain and ride the adrenaline. My mind empties of everything and my body forgets any previous aches and pains. I am completely focused on living in the moment; this perfect moment.
I am here. I am alive. This is it. Nothing else, no one else, matters.
This cannot last. A second wave of adrenaline kicks in. As the seconds tick away I know I have to race against the clock to prevent any lasting damage. I have no desire for frostbite or hypothermia. I have very little time left now to race back to shore. Crossing the concrete slipway and I feel like I already have my shoes back on but this because I have no feeling in my feet at all. The connectivity between flesh and ground is gone. The nerve endings are dying. I must move faster. I could walk on broken glass and not notice. I have no pain, no desires, no interests, nothing except for the need to get my body back to normal.
The socks and boots go back on and I know the worst part is over. I am still in trouble though if I don’t keep moving. I have to walk off the coldness and return the circulation back to its previous state. I need to get myself back home and immerse myself in somewhere warm.
It’s time to bring myself back from the edge…