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What is the benefit in The Cold Shower?

“Since when did your vege become a hot chip?”

“Right now!” my little grandson replied.

“You know that if you keep eating those hot chips…it can turn real ugly?” I told him.

50 years ago, when I was around his age and an aspiring gunslinger in the tradition of Clint Eastwood, there were no hot chips. Only veges.

The good, bad and the ugly

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In this classic spaghetti western, the famous finale had the 3-man duel.

Duels are usually a 2-person affair. The good versus the bad. And whilst the 3-person duel is possible, It is very difficult for a human brain to process the extra data. But the third party can sometimes be crucial to forcing progress.

Trump has a fight with China. But he also has a battle with COVID-19. He knows that it is suicide to bring two opponents into a battle.

“China is BAD” he proclaims. “it’s a China virus.”

In the movie,  Blondie knew who the bad one was. And he put him into the grave. But this was only possible when he sided with Ugly and rendered him harmless first.

Blondie then says to Tuco: “In this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig… you dig” 

Ultimately, he would still have to deal with Ugly. But Ugly was useful and enabled Blondie to get rid of Bad…..and dig for the gold.

Trump’s problem is that he tried to gun down China first. He went for Ugly.

Now, he is left with the BAD pandemic. But to make matters worse, China is still holding a gun…. And who knows if that gun is now loaded and ready to fire…

We can only deal with two things at a time

It is easier for our minds to deal with “it is either this or that” This dualistic mode of data processing gives us:

  • Zero/one,
  • coffee/tea,
  • swipe left/right,
  • men/women
  • liberal/labour
  • me/you
  • good/bad

…but if you look beyond these screaming twosomes, you will see that ugly and all of his kind are lurking in the shadows.

I was asked once: “How many sides in a pyramid?”. I understood the question to be “How many sides do you see in a pyramid?”. My answer was TWO. Every picture I have seen of a pyramid only showed two sides.

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And if you thought the correct answer is FOUR, then you are still missing something. Most people forget the base. And if you count that, there are actually FIVE sides.

Where does the ugly fit?

We can all agree that Hitler was the bad guy. The Jews certainly has a valid case. What we don’t realise is that when Hitler was dead, there was still the ugly to deal with.

All human beings have an ugly side. Hitler managed to bring out this facet of human behaviour in quite ordinary Germans… who became the guards of the gas chambers and accomplices of genocide.

..and digging into this further, many of these remnants of the Nazi era were in demand after the war and operation ‘Paperclip” imported 1600 ‘Nazis’ into the USA to help in ‘scientific’ research.

And if you think that the horrors of war were only confined to the west, the Japanese had their ‘unit 731’.

But it is the ugliness of those times that enabled mankind to get to where we are today.

Ugliness cannot be killed. But it can be useful.

Saddled with our modern polarised view-points, we can get stuck and not make any progress – until we realise that we still need to enlist our ugliness to win our wars.

The cold shower

A few years ago, my wife told me to “…go take a cold shower”. It was a shock to the system.

I have been taking cold showers ever since. And it is ugly.

My shower sequence goes like this:

  • Make sure the shower water is nice and warm before I step under it.
  • Delight in the warmth for at least two minutes. I shampoo during this phase.
  • Turn taps off.
  • Lather and scrub body.
  • Turn on cold tap only.
  • Feel the explosion of shock and the deep gasp as the cold water hits the body.
  • Rinse off in the cold water for 40 seconds.

Any benefits of a cold shower are not immediately obvious.

But when I looked beyond the hot or cold polarities, I discovered another possibility.

A cold shower can lead to weight loss (via the growth of brown fat and high metabolism), combined with the promise of better immunity (white blood cell growth). I figured that if there was any benefit, then it was worth the 40 seconds of shock twice a day.

Ugly never dies. After I force my hand to reach for the COLD tap, I still involuntarily gasp for air when the cold water hits the skin. But what if the zone for growth is not found in the warm water between the hot and cold taps – but in the ugly shock of the sudden temperature drop?

I don’t really know if my cold shower is any help in fighting off the agents of extermination. I do know that my weight is lower than it was 40 years ago. And my Medicare card was last used 3 years ago.

Turning chips into veges

My grandson said that the hot chip came out of a potato… which he says is a vegetable. They are the same things.

And who am I to argue?

Even though both my hot and cold water comes from the same water supply too, the cold water can be just as objectionable and foreign as vegetables to his dinner.

But I know that I can turn my hot chip into a vegetable by just ‘willing’ my hand to turn on just one tap.

The COLD one.