Minnesota has a reputation of being the icebox of the nation. Winter brings about unique challenges for the inhabitants here: staying warm, surviving, staying warm, keeping healthy, and staying warm! Since a primary goal throughout winter is keeping ourselves warm, why would people purposefully shun that duty, expose bare skin to the natural elements and immerse themselves into a frozen lake? Because it’s there!
Each year, Minnesotans gather at frozen lakes, cut holes in said frozen lakes, strip down to (almost) bare skin, and jump! What? It’s not some weird fad. No, this is Polar Plunging! I have to believe that jumping into a frozen lake is not a new activity (probably been around since the beginning of….well, I guess the ice age!). Yet, what may have started as a rite of passage or some pseudo-holistic healing practice, has now turned into a money-maker. Fortunately for justification sake, it’s making money for a great cause! The Minnesota Special Olympics!
Minnesota law enforcement agencies have sponsored this unique event at multiple lakes for the last 15 years in Minnesota and the popularity increases every year. Last year was my first “jump”. I didn’t know what to expect, became apprehensive (rational?) right before they yelled jump, but came out the other side (of the water) like a victorious warrior! I was a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’! Frozen to the very core of my soul, but very much alive! I accomplished that short 10 second burst of extreme exposure and wanted more! Well, more has come again!
Welcome the 2012 Polar Plunge in Minnesota! The warrior within has surged! Well, the costume might be a bit misleading. Not very warrior-like. Did I tell you that many of the participants like to dress in costumes? No? Oh, they sure do! Groups of people will often dress alike or follow a theme, such as the folks that become Smurfs or the couple dressed like Batman and Robin. Too fun! Costume and all right into the frigid waters! Just for the record, the feetie-pajamas are not straight out of my dresser! (Though they are sure comfortable!)
Once in, you are surrounded by a sudden shock of chill. The real fun begins when you break the water’s surface. The winter air pokes at you like a thousand needles in every direction. Under normal circumstances, this would cause distress….but not today. Today is warrior day! Today is the day I’ve overcome rational fears and ideas. People don’t jump in a lake in the middle of winter, especially with water-retaining adult footie pajamas on! Ah, but they do! When everyone else says you shouldn’t because it isn’t normal…you do it because…..
Because there are some people who face challenges everyday that are beyond what you and I can comprehend. Tasks that we take for granted are uphill battles for some. My 10 second uphill battle is just a blip on life’s radar compared to what our Olympians face each day. The Special Olympics participants are going against the grain of society…doing amazing feats of strength, stamina, and skill that they were once told they could not do. And, thanks to their inspiration, truly wonderful people have stepped up to donate time and money to ensure that these Olympians can continue to show us how to overcome!
Sure, some have told me how crazy I am because I jumped in a frozen lake in the middle of winter. It’s really the motivation behind the jump that makes it perfectly clear to me. That jump is the most sane thing I’ve done all year. I’ve been fortunate to have helped some of the greatest inspiration the world should be watching! It really makes sense…Common Sense, to be more precise! Keep focused on success, not failure. More mountains (and frozen lakes) can be conquered with a warrior zeal within!