We were so uncomfortable

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When I was a little girl, my sister & I would plant our tiny hands onto the frozen backseat windows of our car. "I can leave mine on longer, Jordyn!"

"No way! Mine's not even numb yet."

The window would be graced with streaks of ice, like those left by Jack Frost. The kind of bone-chilling ice that only -40 degree weather could produce in the middle of Northern Ontario.

We'd play this (kinda insane) game whenever we got the chance. After we visited Grandma in the winter was best because it was a 30 minute drive home from her place.

Away from the warmth of her home & abundance of comfort foods, we'd hop into the ice block of a car... "ready, set, go!" making sure we both hit the window at the same time.

Driving up Grandma's hill was always easy... I'd count "10, 11, 12, 13..." to see how much time had passed, impressed with how far we'd made it so far. Then the pain would come - the kind I'd imagine a polar bear dip would create - spreading through each finger, one by one.

"Ummm.... how ya doing over there, Paityn?" I'd say, hoping she'd be ready to call it quits.

"My hands almost numb! Plus it's making the ice melt, that's so cool!" she'd reply in awe.

Whoa, I'd think to myself, it is melting the ice. That's awesome! My little hand, melting all that ice... sucking the energy out of my hand to heat up this tiny spot on the window.


At this point, we were about 10 minutes into the drive - out of my Grandma's town of Garson and into the main city of New Sudbury. My hand was almost numb... the prickles of pain weren't constant now, they were just there. I'd look at the patterns on the window that Jack Frost had created for us while we were eating Grandma's pickled beets and carrots. What a nice guy, hard at work making all these designs for us while we were eating! And how beautiful those designs were when the city lights brightened them up. One street light, car light, house light at a time, making the frozen reindeers and princesses come alive in a disco dance.

20 minutes had now passed, and we were almost home.

"Jord, is your hand numb yet?," Pait whispered from the other window.

Looking at my hand, with new frozen drawings etched around my skinny little fingers, I said "Yeah, Pait. It's numb."

"Can we be done now, Jord?," she asked hopefully.

"Well.. we're almost there. Let's just keep going," I replied with hesitation. I mainly wanted to make sure my handprint was permanently there for Jack Frost to use as a template in the morning. We'd made these funny turkeys out of hand tracings in class... maybe it would inspire him! My hand was pretty numb... but how neat would a turkey made out of snowflakes be?

The words "Copper Cliff" appeared on a green sign - the town we lived in. The home stretch was here, only a couple minutes left until we'd hit the driveway. Suddenly, sticks of ice slid through my hand... at least it felt like it, with the throbbing dull pain to follow.

"Pait! Let's call it a tie... my hand really hurts," I pleaded.

"No, Jord. We're almost there!"

I squirmed, staring at my purple hand. Why did we even do this in the first place? This isn't fun. What if I lose my hand! What if it falls off, like the headless horseman but not my head... my hand! My writing hand too... I'll never write again! I should've used my left hand, jeez that was stupid of me. I should've listened to Paityn when she wanted to quit - I was so obsessed with that stupid Jack Frost...

And then the reindeer danced again, passing the light at the end of our driveway.

We were home - with inspiring handprints for Jack to work on overnight, and statue hands as symbols of our victory.

We won.


I remembered this story after listening to Brian Johnson's interview with Kelly McGonigal: "The Willpower Instinct" (available on iTunes podcasts). Kelly spoke about the importance of being able to tolerate discomfort, which brought me back to the crazy & cold discomfort my sister and I would tolerate for fun on our drives home from Grandma's. 

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