I would consider myself a fairly adventurous person. To me, I value experience a lot more than physical things nowadays. It’s taken me a long time to get here, for sure. Quite honestly, I fully owe this mentality to my parents.
Growing up, my family and I were never big into gifts. It’s not that my sisters and I would ever say we didn’t want presents. I would pine for iPods at Christmas; coming into school after winter break and not having anything to show off, that’s a weird predicament as an adolescent. I had years where I never understood my parents. They decided, when I was approximately 12 or so, that we would start spending Christmas abroad as a family. Over the week or so for our break, my two younger sisters, my parents, and I, would go to a new location – typically somewhere warm. It was incredible, seeing other cultures, foods, beaches, plants, architecture, and more. But being so young, and caught up in the world of other kids having these physical things, I felt almost gypped. Stupid. Honestly, I’m kicking my younger self in the ass right now.
Now, even today, I question some of the things my parents tell me. I hate to admit it, but it’s a deep rooted flaw most children will always have. But I finally understood their motives about a year ago today actually.
I went on an alternative spring break trip to Haiti with a few fellow students. We prepared for months for our trip, and yet, it wasn’t until we were there when it actually hit me – I’ve been outside of the country more times than most of my peers on the trip had been out of state. And that rocked me to my core.
As a kid I was so invested in this image I thought other people perceived. “What did you get from your grandparents?” “Why didn’t your parents get you anything?” “Didn’t you ask for presents?”
I’m not judging the outcomes of those kids. Quite honestly, I have no idea what 99% of the people I went to middle school with are doing today. I’m sure most of them turned out just fine. But my parents – they should be given an award. They showed my sisters and I the importance of being in the moment; of seeing the world. There is so much to explore and learn. It’s not about what you have. It’s what you’ve experienced, loved, and deeply felt.
Which brings me to my topic today. Floating.
Living in Portland alone, I took it upon myself to experience the most unordinary things I could find. It was a colleague of mine that first told me about float tanks. He was raving about this strange salt “device” that would submerge (that’s a punny word in this context) you in this almost sleep-like state. He sounded like he was on some heavy drugs. But then again, a lot of people in Portland did.
So, being intrigued, I decided to research this salt tub nonsense. Turns out, the cult following surrounding float tanks is insane. Picture this big people-sized clam shell, filled with water. When you step into it, eventually sinking yourself into the tank, you bob up onto the surface instantly. Each tank holds hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of salt, making you float. It would be physically impossible to drown in almost 2 feet deep water.
So what’s the point? It’s allegedly used for re-cycling your circadian rhythm, inducing meditative states, helping chronic pain sufferers, and more. Once you’re in the clam shell, you float, doze off, wade, etc. All while being in complete darkness. It’s main purpose is to rid you of all your senses: floating, suspended, without thought and feeling. Sounds kinda creepy and almost dystopian. Especially when you finally see one:
I mean, c’mon. Doesn’t that look like something out of the Minority Report?? But in all seriousness, it was totally worth the experience. Most people haven’t even heard of these things, let alone paid to be in one. My session for an hour and a half (a typical one is about 90-100 mins) cost me $80. Yes, I scoffed at that, and almost slightly regretted it afterwards. I never fell asleep, and quite honestly it was very unnerving for the first half until I calmed down. But man, I will never say no to experiences like that again.
All I can say is – even as a young, dumb person still living out in the big scary world – go do that thing you were always scared or unsure of. Indulge your alter ego, make a (somewhat) rash decision, and never look back. I don’t have a bucket list, because I don’t want my life to be this To Do List in which I just instinctively check boxes off. But if I did, I could check the “Big Salt Clam Shell Pod Thing” box off, for sure.