I can bet that anyone who reads this essay has felt cold at least once in their life. At first, I have always thought of the freezing cold with great annoyance, a pest-like feeling perhaps. As the numbness hits your brain, it’s like a shot directed towards your nerves. It wasn’t until my trip to Siberia when I learned to appreciate the cold and enjoy the feeling of being warm again.
I had always been a passionate swimmer, loving to swim whenever and wherever I could. Of course, that was when the pool was nice and warm after been heated. But the pools in Siberia had no such luxury. They were ice cold, and before I even got in the pool, I could feel my body temperature steadily dropping. But due to my love of swimming, I jumped in without any thought of consequences. Almost immediately, my body fell into a state of shock. I had never experienced anything even close to this before. It felt like shards of ice were cutting into my skin. Too late, my legs were already beginning to feel numb, and I desperately tried to swim a few meters to regain some body heat. A sense of dread drove into me like a knife about to find its way into my body. Just as I was about to lose consciousness, the kind lifeguard noticed me. He rushed towards me, and that was the last thing I saw. I woke up in a hospital, surrounded by my family and friends.
I was in the Federal Siberian Research and Clinical Center of FMBA of Russia. My father gave me a summary of what had happened that day. The lifeguard had saved my life. He jumped into the water without a suit and pulled me out of the water. He had not one thought for his own safety, for when he had gotten me out of the water, he himself lost consciousness. Suddenly, the horror of the situation hit me. I asked my father what had happened to him, and he just grimly shook his head. The lifeguard had perished. I would have died with him, if it wasn’t for the lifeguard, who called for backup before he jumped in the pool. It was my own mistake that had caused the death of the bravest person I ever knew.
I had been saved from hypothermia by the doctors, and it hadn’t been fatal. I was too much in shock and grief to say anything. I asked to be alone, away from the people who knew how much of a failure I was. I had been careless enough to ignore the warning saying that all swimmers had to wear a heated swimsuit. Suddenly, I noticed a bright fire coming out from the furnace next to me. As I sat next to it, my body filled with warmth and hope. A feeling of pure joy filled my heart, as I began believing that there was hope for a better future.
After I went back to U.S., I began studying the science of heat. I was confident that if heat could determine the life and death of cavemen back in the Stone Age, surely it could be a factor in the heating of homes in Siberia, and it could be the cause of Siberians living a warmer lifestyle.