The intensely vivid hallucinations and loss of approximately 20 minutes certainly may have been the onset of hypothermia, I’m not a doctor, but to an 8-year-old living in the middle of undeveloped, rural farmland with no close neighbors; it was the coolest (it was also the late 70’s) experience ever, and one that would guide many of my decisions to come.
The original virtual reality
The Cottage Grove Elementary school had just released its students for the summer, and my dad took that as his signal to fill our swimming pool with the garden hose and water that was probably just a fraction of a degree over the freezing point; just enough to remain liquid. I loved swimming and spent most of my waking hours in water somewhere or another, so the exact instant the hose was pulled out, I jumped in. I knew the water was going to be chilly, but it was FREEZING COLD! Didn’t matter; I had a brand-new, yellow, toy submarine from a box of Cap’n Crunch that promised to dive and surface on its own – just by adding baking soda!
After recovering my breath from the absolute shock of such frigid water, I released the submarine, and to my amazement, it actually worked – for a minute or two. There was no way I was going to get out of the water and run back to the house for a reload of baking soda, so I took manual control of the vessel. It was at that moment my awareness completely left the pool, and I was in a fully crewed submarine. I could smell sea water, feel damp air, and I could “see” other men in uniform – even hear them responding to my orders. I stayed there for what turned out to be a little over 20 minutes before realizing exactly where I was and just how cold I had become, and got out of the water.
I could not shake the experience I had that day, and tried to duplicate it again the following morning. I played with the same toy, the water was still ice-cold, and I focused extra hard on putting myself back on board with the rest of the crew, but it just didn’t happen. I can clearly remember only a handful of other occasions upon which I’ve entered this same…. state, but I now understand some of the influence these occasions have had.
Whatever it was; exposure, focus, imagination, a super-cool toy, or something else I knew something deep in my brain had something to do with it, and I took an early interest in psychology.
By the time I entered high school, I was well into some of Freud’s writings, favoring his work with dreams, and I began branching out to the work of his colleague, Carl Jung. A bachelor’s degree was always part of my plan, and psychology was an obvious major. I completed 2 full years of study; taking as many abnormal and criminal type psychology classes as I could manage before academic burnout hit – followed closely by Life.
Better late than never
The influence of that initial experience can’t easily be seen again until recently when I took out a loan against my 401(k) to purchase a used floatation tank, prepare and lease a suitable space for it, and investigate the experience for myself. My intent was to open the tank for public use, but the public use of such a tank is categorized under a highly regulated swimming pool industry, and the licensing and administrative fees were outrageous. While I no longer have the tank set-up, I continue to learn everything I can about floatation and all the theories surrounding its many benefits, and potentially, I have found a fulfilling career path.