I Hate The Cold. Here's Why I'm Going Swimming In Iceland
By Bella Westaway
A few months ago, just as Sydney started to get chilly, my shower broke. Or, more specifically, the hot water tap in my shower stopped turning. No hot water for us.
For the first few days, I avoided it. I showered at my Mums place. I skipped a shower. I showered at the gym.
Then one night I arrived home after a particularly sweaty Vinyasa yoga class, having temporarily forgotten about the shower situation. When I realised, I was overcome with an infuriating mix of annoyance at the shower and anger at myself for forgetting, yet again, to email the real estate agent to get it fixed. I stood in the bathroom in my sweaty activewear, shivering, and started to cry.
My boyfriend arrived home in the middle of my meltdown, briefcase in one hand and common sense in the other. He asked what was wrong.
“The (sob) damn (sob) shower (sob)”, I replied. Only I didn’t say damn.
He hugged me, told me to go and stand in the shower and then started filling up saucepans with hot water from the sink.
Over the next five minutes, he ran between the bathroom and the kitchen, gently pouring hot water over me as I stood, squealing, in the shower.
By the end, we were both laughing hysterically. It was, exhilarating, hilarious, and so much fun. I got out of my comfort zone in such an unexpected way, and the broken shower turned into a wonderful water adventure we laughed about for days. A regular Tuesday night became an anecdote, an experience. It was so much better than my regular, hot shower I have every day.
So why don’t we do stuff like that more often? Why do we get so annoyed or upset when we get caught in the rain, or the hot water breaks, or there’s a blackout?
We live in a world where staying in our comfort zone is easy. We have aircon in summer and heating in winter. We have cars, or trains, or uber. We have electricity and gas. We have Netflix.
These amenities are great – I love my washing machine, and in-flight entertainment, and my iPhone.
But this world of ease has created a kind of comfort entitlement – I feel it’s my right to be comfortable. And I don’t think I’m alone.
When was the last time you complained about the weather? Or about waiting? Or an economy-class seat being too small? Or having to bring your own bags to the supermarket? Or the internet being slow? Or the heating not working?
Another great example is our bodily functions, and our quest to never experience them fully.
Got a headache? Take a Panadol.
Can’t sleep? Ambien.
Constipated? Take a laxative.
Diarrhea? There’s a pill for that, too.
Comfort, and the quest for it, has become another first-world problem. And I’m not sure it’s doing any of us any favours.
Because as our discomfort is reduced through technology and tablets, our quality of life is also diminishing. Our entitlement, our expectation of constant comfort, is making us sick and sad, as we miss out on the moments that give life meaning.
Dancing down the street in the middle of a rainstorm. A swim in icy mountain water. Abseiling off a building. Watching the sunrise from the summit of a mountain. Laughing until it hurts with your besties. Deep and meaningful chats at 3am by the fireside, as you struggle to keep your eyes open. A hot cup of tea at the end of a long day of adventure. Standing in a freezing shower, shivering, while your lover pours hot water on you from a saucepan in a hilarious, uncomfortable, brilliant makeshift shower.
So I’ve given myself a challenge. It’s cliched, but empowering. I’m getting out of my comfort zone. I’m tacking my hatred of cold water head on in five weeks when I hike across Iceland. And not just hike. Hike through glacial streams. I’m also going diving (diving!) in ice-melt water. Ouch.
Because as much as I love to snuggle on the couch in front of the heater with a cup of mulled wine, and soak in a relaxing, hot bath after work, I also want experiences which make me feel alive – which fill me with vitality and an appreciation for the joy of living.
And those things don’t take place inside an uber, they take place in the rain. They don’t happen from the comfort of my bedroom, but outside the front door.
So if you, like me, enjoy the safety, warmth and security of your comfort zone a little too much, take the plunge. Literally. Go diving in some melted ice. Or do a mud run. Or try the 60km Coastrek instead of settling for 30km. Or just have a freezing shower in the middle of winter. Or walk home in the rain.
It might be uncomfortable, but it’ll make you feel alive.