So said Dan, last Thursday, at around 10:30 a.m. as we both stood shivering on the river bank, dripping wet, in our underpants!
I suppose he is right, although strangely I have never stopped to think about this. I would probably not have done this even when I was twenty years younger, let alone a few years ago.
Dan and I had stopped to take out the Thermos and have a cup of tea, as two balding forty-two year old men should do. Then my "adventure mentor" suggested we should dive into the dark waters of the river Ouse, cold and murky like over-brewed green tea.
Dan is a relatively experienced open water swimmer. When compared to me, he is a dolphin. It is an obvious statement to say that age makes us less self-conscious but to my surprise (and probably to his) I was willing to take an impromptu alfresco dip. I mean, what is the worst that could happen? Get chilly? Have a random dog-walker see two less-than-perfect men, naked and laughing ... anyway, I didn't notice anyone passing by.
As we walked briskly home in an attempt to warm up, I contemplated what had made me do this.
Why jump in a river on a cold day?
- Fashion? The kind of social media I subject myself to is full of adventurous folk diving into ice-cold lakes so this must be a factor.
- A New Challenge? I have been contemplating the idea of learning to swim properly and take to open water, partly to connect with nature in the most intimate of ways but also because it simply looks fun and it is a discipline in which I start from scratch and have endless room for improvement!
- Necessity? Because of my (currently) damaged meniscus I have been starved of cardio workouts. This is something I miss. In the back of my mind there is a genuine fear that my knee will not really improve and my dreams of long-distance running will remain unfulfilled.
- Nostalgia? When I was a child jumping in water was something that I actively looked to do at every opportunity. A river on a hot day. A mountain pool. Splashing in a trickle of water. Jumping in a puddle. Perhaps it is the uncontrollability of water which fascinates us from an early age but certainly "the worst that can happen" never crossed our minds.
- Mid-Life Crisis? Could well be. See all of the above!
Whatever the reason I am glad that my mindset is such that I am quite happy to strip down to my pants and throw myself into a river, albeit for just a short while given the temperature.
Uninhibited spontaneity has never been my strong point, especially when it comes to taking my clothes off on a public footpath minutes from my home (perhaps it's for the best). Now for some swimming lessons!