Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Polar Bear Proud

Freshman year was the worst. I stood barefoot on the freezing ice and snow for well over a half hour, waiting for my turn to plunge into the icy depths of Calvin College’s Seminary Pond. With fingers gradually turning 
white, I raised my left hand and placed my right above my heart, reciting the sacred pledge:

We promise to leap into the Sem Pond,
Surrendering ourselves to the icy waters,
And embracing our falleness as creatures.

And when the waters cover our entire body
And our feet are mired in muck,
We will be given the grace
To emerge from the depths
As lifelong members of the Cold Knight Club.

Having attained our reward,
We will serve our fellow humanity
Knowing that we have gone
Where few dare to tread.
All for one,
one for all.

Now, four years later, I have attained my reward: my golden towel. And yes, it feels as good as I knew it would. Or maybe it just felt good to not have to wait in line this time around—fourth-year jumpers get priority—and to have the feeling return to my toes within minutes afterward emerging from the icy depths, rather than a quarter of an hour later.

Do I feel bad for the poor youngsters that had to wait their thirty minutes this year? Not really. And not just because it wasn’t nearly as cold this year and because of a policy change, no one waits on the ice for more than a couple minutes anymore.

The way I figure it, there ought to be some perks for being a senior, perched precariously on the terrifying edge of graduation. Freshman still have that beautiful gift of “all the time in the world” to figure out their major and their career and their hang-ups. They can afford thirty degrees for a half hour.

And since no one’s offering me any more time to figure things out, I’ll settle for a golden towel and priority jumping status.

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