The water encasing us is icy. I force my shaking and protesting body to take a few deep breaths and relax into the sensation. My fingers are numb. My body is on fire.
What started as an experiment and hobby for a good friend of mine started to make sense to me. He calls it "Wim Hoffing" (after the Dutch professional adventurer, Wim Hof, who popularised the breathing technique and cold water immersion in the West), but it is called by other names in different cultures.
The idea behind it is to breathe in a specific pattern, interlaced with some breath holding and mindfulness, "charging" up the body, followed by an icy cold dip (preferably in a beautiful ocean or stream) and feel that "inner fire" burn.
It feels like drugs. My entire body is aflame from the inside out, and I have the energy to go to a mid-morning rave (we settled on a coffee and cycled back into the city instead). More importantly though, during the process I found myself sinking into a deep, meditative state. In-tune with myself and everything around me. My heartbeat, the crash of waves against the rocks. The light of the sun cresting the horizon.
That is when the thought popped into my mind. "Life is movement".
Defining what life is, is a pretty tough job (if not impossible) from a scientific perspective. But this simple adage made sense to me at that moment, and I believe continues to ring with truth to me still.
The birds flitting between branches, chirping, building nests. A rabbit flitting from burrow to burrow: very energetically alive.
A fire sparking and popping, surrounded by crisp air and the laughter of good friends: beautiful, kinetic, alive.
Me climbing a mountain or dissecting a particularly difficult problem when contrasted with me watching episode 15 of a generic series illustrates this difference of movement, both mental and physical. It illustrates the contrast of life.
One step deeper. Older and more powerful still, the ocean.
She is very much alive. Sometimes resting with her mirrored surface undisturbed, but at other times she crashes and smashes; unstoppable, fierce, and beautiful.
The analogy "dead as a rock" no longer makes sense to me. Rocks are alive, they just move over millennia, unnoticed by us transient beings. There is so much power in their movement though, shaping mountains, plains, and continents.
Maybe I'll use that in the future when describing a strong, thoughtful, and earnest person. I will think of them as "alive as a rock".
I think they will understand.