There are some things our minds simply won’t allow, if we allow ourselves to think about them too much. One of those things, for me, is jumping into icy cold water in January.

Yesterday morning, after watching a luminous New Year’s morning sunrise at Fort Hill and having an early breakfast at the Orleans Hearth and Kettle, John and I decided to drive over to Skaket Beach, since we’d never been there. The tide was far in. Looking down into the frigid waves that almost lapped the boardwalk where we stood, I thought, “There is no f—–king way I’m going in there!”  

It’s good to remember that your thinking mind is not your best helper in these circumstances and really should not be put in charge. In other words, don’t think about it!

I practiced this intently when I went in for laser eye surgery a few years ago. As I went through the prep and the doctor clamped my eyelid open, I simply could not allow my mind to wander around freely, reminding me that this guy was soon going to slice a layer off my eyeball with a high-tech razor blade. No no no no no! It was critical to stay precisely on the knife-edge of the present moment. Pressure… brightness… sound… breath. Then it was manageable. (A double dose of valium helped too.)

Likewise, to run into freezing water you have to stay present. Cold air… excitement… running. Then, something that’s unthinkable turns out to be do-able.