Friday, March 07, 2008

Super Human

Wim Hof and Lynne Cox can do an amazing thing -- they can withstand extreme cold temperatures with no adverse effects. Hof ran a half-marathon, bare foot, dressed only in a swimsuit, at the Arctic Circle. He swam 80 metres under an ice sheet at the North Pole. He climbed Mount Everest in shorts. Cox on the other hand swam the Bering Strait and a mile through icebergs in the Antarctic. Neither suffered from frostbite or hypothermia due to their prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures. That has left doctors wondering how they do it.

Amazingly enough, Hof and Cox are quite normal. There is nothing in their physiology that differentiates them from everybody else. The only theory with some merit, is that both have used their brains to mentally prepare their bodies for the extremes. This is a tantalizing prospect, as it speaks to some untapped potential of the brain. Being able to take control of the body -- the organs, and the physiological response to external stimuli is amazing. If the mechanism can be figured out and it can be taught, the possibilities are endless.

Reading about Cox and Hof made me think of the feats of mental agility I'm personally capable of. I can appear to be superhuman at times. Like Cox and Hof, I've learned to prepare my body so as to not respond physically to the monotony and general apathy I sometimes find myself subjected to in meetings. I sometimes amaze myself at the interest and attention I can generate for dull topics -- where weaker souls would be fantasizing about hari-kari.

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