hot springs

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.


19 replies on “BUT I AM RELAXING

  • Bart

    I used to be a committed Non-Soaker.
    But living near Trimble & Pagosa Hot Springs now has converted me to an ambiguous Independent.

  • Dave Sandel

    I think I might be both? Maybe? (Upward tonal inflection on both of those.)

    E.g. If I do something particularly strenuous on a Saturday, I have no problems having a LOTR marathon, i.e. all 3 movies, extended versions, back-to-back-t0-back, and vegging out all day. It’s a regular occurance.

    But if I didn’t do anything awesome and I don’t have any plans and all I’m supposed to do is “go hang out by the pool all day”, I start to get a little bit twitchy.

    Maybe, my happy place is either causing destruction to my body, or letting my body recover from said destruction.

    But by no means would I ever go somewhere just to wallow in warm, shallow body of water. That’s silly.

  • Jay B

    I’m primarily a non-soaker, but that’s not because I don’t know how to relax, it’s because I find doing stuff relaxing. If I spent all weekend sitting in hot springs, getting massages and drinking mojitos, I’d be stressed and tired again as soon as it was over. But if I spent all weekend climbing – fighting to tamp down some wicked Elvis leg and get my lead head screwed on while leading up an alpine choss party, I can bathe in a serene afterglow for days.

  • Joe Kisley

    I guess I’m a soaker then. I’m typing this from my hammock mid mountain bike ride. I always take my hammock with me 🙂

  • Ryan

    I think I enjoy the idea of being a non-soaker but cannot get myself into non-soaker mode. I love the idea of relaxing on a porch watching a thunderstorm, or lounging in a hammock reading, but when I find myself in these situations I can sit for about 5 minutes before my mind is going “That was nice, whats next? Don’t tell me were going to spend a chunk of the day just doing this!? There is adventure to be had.”

  • Sean R

    This reminds me of the uphill/downhill piece from a few months back. I was ‘accused’ of being a die-hard uphiller (I’m not convinced that it’s that simple), but I’ll go to great lengths for a wild hot springs experience. *Epiphany* I just answered my own conundrum, my favorite Idaho hot springs are the ones that are the hardest to access.

    And I sometimes joke that my play is grueling work.

  • Debi

    Non-soakers sometimes soak…Syd is not a soaker. I love to soak. Syd loves me. Sometimes Syd soaks. 🙂

  • AaronF

    Non-Soaker up-hiller, but a terrible line crosser (especially with tacky things not to say). Its good to venture to the other side once in a while, but it always feels good to come home.

  • Tiffany

    Non-Soaker. My sister yelled at me a few months ago, “Can’t you just stop and not do anything for once? Just STOP and relax?”

    I looked at her like she was crazy and said, “Uh, no. So, what other project do you have for me around the house?”

    However, I have been finding some Soaker-like feelings deep within are rising, as I’ve realized my Non-Soaker is having a hard time catching a breath. Then I came to the conclusion that “light” Non-Soaker things (putzing around the garden, being domesticated) is my way of being a “Soaker.”

  • Patricia

    Definitely a soaker! I like to go-go-go, but when I slow down I really slow down. Everytime I book a hotel, I make sure it has a hot tub. After climbing all day I want to do is sit in a hot tub and soak my muscles. And the idea of hot spring pools existing naturally in a beautiful setting is one of my favorite things. We went all over the North Island in New Zealand sampling amazing springs including a hot river where we sat under a waterfall. Soaking might be the only time I really actually remember to slow down. Now I’m pregnant and not allowed to soak. It’s been really hard the past nine months trying to make it without a soak. (Although to be honest, those nine months appeared to begin with a hot tub during a weekend of snowboarding and snowshoeing.)

  • Henry

    Non-soaker…but is that hot springs halfway through a ride or hike? I think I could settle for a soak before heading home.

  • aline stevenson

    As an incorrigible non-soaker, I finally feel understood. Thank you!!! So many times I read an article or=f yours and FINALLY feel SOOO understood 🙂
    Any plans to put a compilation of your article into a book?
    Thanks for writing and making me feel understood! Aline

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