Sunday, January 02, 2005

Coney Island Boardwalk. New Years Day 2005. Before Polar Bear Swim.

Originally uploaded by nadzent.
To celebrate the new year, and mark the passing of the last, I joined a couple hundred crazy New Yorkers in the annual Polar Bear Club swim in the Atlantic at Coney Island beach. Ernie did not join me in the water, but he was great with the towel as soon as I needed it! He also took some photos to document my day.

It was such a great experience. I described it at the time as "Dunking in Happy Juice." Corny, I know, but true. The energy on the beach was electric. A makeshift marching band played as we marched from the boardwalk to the sand. People wore robes, furs, hats, flags. People drank beer, champagne, hot cocoa...really a great experience. There were tens of film crews and photographers both on the beach and in the water.

When I hit the water for the first time, just off to the side of the mass of swimmers, it was like electricity shooting from my toes to the top of my head. I couldn't help but scream and laugh as my feet and legs quickly and sharply became numb. There was some force outside of myself causing me to jump and splash and spin around in the water. I can't explain it. It was truly like all of the pain of the past year was washed from my skin and from my soul - gone - poof! Instant perma-grin, a deep down joy.

The suffering of those people swallowed up by the sea only a week previous washed over me and through me. I couldn't help but to scream out to the sea. In an instant I felt connected to everything and everyone. People were chanting and holding hands. There was a shared euphoria.

I took to the water not one but three times before reluctantly drying off and heading home. The cold water stopped my breath - and when I could breath again I was breathing a new air - a new hope - a new sense of peace and calm for the year ahead.

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