To founder in dislike and like is nothing but the mind’s disease – Hsin Hsin Ming
If I had a dollar for every time I heard, while I was at Tassajara, a guest proclaiming that the creek was cold – either as a reason for not going in the water, or as a reaction to having gone in – I could have bought myself a nice treat.
My response to the statement, when I gave one, was to say, ‘you should try it in January.’ When asked how it was, after I had gone in, I tended to describe it as fresh. I know how different it can feel depending on the warmth of the day (and the weather went from warm to cool to hot to cool to warm in the ten days I was there), the depth and speed of the water.
Mostly though, I reflected on how I had made going into the creek a practice: I went in every day that I was a monk at Tassajara. In January there would be a long warm-up in the steam room before I went in, and a quick return to the warm plunges afterwards, but I always did it, as did others who were there.
In the summer I have a habit of just jumping right in, simply to take the thinking out of it, and that seems to reflect the training we get as monks: don’t contemplate whatever it is you have to do, just do it. It may be cold, it may feel great, but what the English call the ‘faffing about’ beforehand is the hardest part of it.
Corinna got this shot of me jumping in at the Narrows last year.