It’s barely above freezing here and this guy just jumped naked into the lake.
He stood on the bank, took everything off and just… jumped in.
He’s not bothered that people are stopping to watch him wade around in the waist-deep icy-cold water, either.
Men, women and children are watching him open-mouthed while they’re wrapped up in scarves and hoods, clapping their gloved hands together* to keep warm.
* (does this actually work? I’ve never noticed any benefit, personally. But a lot of people do it, so maybe there’s some science behind it. Google probably has the answer, so I could check that later. Or not. Google has so many answers, but who wants to know everything?)
This guy, whoever he is, is now swimming in the lake, here in the middle of a heavily-wooded public park in Berlin, in the middle of winter.
This is not a clean-looking lake, by the way. Uh-uh. This isn’t some photogenic, gleaming oasis of calm…
Berliners like to party outdoors, especially over the past year-of-COVID when so many of the city’s famed indoor party places were closed. Which means this lake is full of all sorts of man-made guff, detritus and party leftovers.
The water is brownish-green, heavy on the brown, and there are branches and logs floating on top (I hope they’re logs).
So this isn’t the kind of clear, twinkling Instagram lake like the one your auntie Doris has as a screensaver. It’s filthy, and as I mentioned, freezing.
And since it’s the holidays, it’s busy too. A lot of families are walking around it, dogs are splashing in and out of it, and people are drinking hot coffee while pointing out the hairy naked swimming dude to their kids.
This guy is not put off by any of that.
He swims towards the middle of the lake, a few leisurely strokes like he’s goin’ loco down in Acapulco, enjoying a beach holiday in summer, rather than swimming in a large brown puddle less than 400km from the Polish border. In January.
Then he flips over and decides it’s time to work on his backstroke, at which point some of the parents start to walk their kids away from the scene, but not that many, because Germans are pretty chill when it comes to public nudity.
I look around to see if anyone else is joining hairy naked swimming dude for a dip. It doesn’t seem that way. He’s left his clothes and backpack on a rock at the water’s edge. I guess anyone at ease enough to swim naked, alone, in a pond in winter is not bothered about people pilfering his undies while he paddles.
I walk on. I try the clappy-hands thing for a few seconds but it doesn’t warm me up. I realise then that I’m not that cold anyway. I mean, people are swimming here, so it can’t be all that cold, right?
By the time I finish my walk around the park and come back to where I began, the naked swimmer has gone. I feel like he deserves a round of applause. For one thing, everybody who saw him felt a little less cold when they thought about how cold he must be.
More importantly, he was doing HIS own thing in his own sweet way.
Not for him the run of the mill ambling, cycling or jogging through the park to shake off the Christmas excesses. This guy wanted a naked swim in a pond and nobody was gonna stop him.
He knows what his body can handle, he cares not whether people see him and think “that guy’s a nutter, a hairy exhibitionist, I can’t imagine what he possibly gets out of this madness”, or that their children are pointing and laughing, or that he’ll feel even colder once he gets out of the lake and has to walk home wet and shivering.
Hairy naked swimming dude is an inspiration to us all. His fearlessly novel approach to winter exercise is something we as entrepreneurs and biz-owners should try to replicate in the year ahead…
Yes there will be people telling us it’s too cold, what the hell are we thinking of…
Yes there will be people laughing and pointing, who see us doing business a little differently and say “what are they doing, why don’t they just do it the way everyone else does it”…
Yes there will be times when we stop and say to ourselves “holy hell, it really IS cold, I can’t believe I’m doing this”.
We’ll struggle for a while, but then we’ll plunge in again, because you and I know it’s a lot more fun than doing things the way everyone else does them.
We’re misfits in the world of marketing, and we’re fine with it.
Welcome to 2021. Come on in, it’s bloody freezing. You’re gonna love it.