Nick mentioned a hot springs somewhere in southern Colorado, and I suspected it was one of those things he was doing because his girlfriend wanted to. He’s a good sport, up for most anything, but I’ve known Nick for 14 years, and he’s just not the type of guy to drive several hours to have a good scenic soak.
I like to group friends and acquaintances into two groups I call Soakers and Non-Soakers. I realize the limitations of lumping people into only two classifications, and I know everyone is different and unique, but let’s be honest: We love to pick sides. Americans love to align a sports team and root against another sports team, decide if they’re Liberal or Conservative and argue to the death on Facebook, call ourselves cat people or dog people, and all kinds of other things. So I sometimes decide if my friends are Soakers or Non-Soakers. Do their eyes light up at the mention of a hot springs, or not?
My pal Mick was a soaker. He was good at slowing down, chilling out, calmly taking photos after he’d set up a tripod and waited for good light, and sitting in warm pools of water in nature. He would ask where I was traveling sometimes, and I would tell him where, and he would say, You know, there’s a great hot springs you should check out, and I would smile and nod and try to actively listen. Words would come out of his mouth, directions I should write down if I wanted to remember where the hot springs were … but I didn’t. He would go on for a few sentences, and I would be genuinely happy for him, but he might as well have been Charlie Brown’s teacher explaining it to me. This is a personal defect, not the fault of Mick or anyone else who ever told me about the best hot springs. I just don’t know how to relax. Do you?
Have you ever caught yourself at the end of a yoga class when you’re supposed to be quietly focusing on savasana, not at all relaxing but instead thinking about all the stuff you’re going to do beginning the second you get out of the yoga class? Me too. It’s OK. Do you have a hard time sitting still if you’re not doing something? Do you slightly freak out when you have no goals or plans for an entire Saturday? Do you just not understand hot tubs, saunas, and natural hot springs? You are probably a Non-Soaker.
Soakers, I believe, know how to listen to their bodies, know how to relax, understand the importance of taking it easy, and most noticeably, enjoy a few minutes or hours in relatively shallow, warm bodies of water. They are in touch with the value of a good porch or piece of lawn furniture. I am sure Soakers will live longer.
I asked Nick at the coffee shop the other day when we were talking about the hot springs, Have you ever gotten a massage? He said, Yeah, I didn’t really get into it. I nodded. I asked, When you get home from work at night, what do you do? He said he either works on something around the house, works on one of his bikes, or reads books. I asked, Do you ever just sit down and relax?
Nah, he said, and shook his head dismissively. “I just go to bed.”
“Exactly!” I said. Nick is a Non-Soaker.
Soaker or Non-Soaker, there’s no better or worse one. No arguments need to start. We do not need to line up on opposite sides and slowly walk toward each other like the Sharks and the Jets. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking gun control, or the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, or tele vs. AT, or 29 vs. 26 or something. Just relax. Unless you’re a non-soaker—then just go ahead and do whatever it is you do instead of relaxing. I’m going to finish drinking this pot of coffee.