Making New Year’s Day a rite of passage

  • By Bruce Overstreet
  • Monday, December 30, 2013 2:31pm
  • Life

“My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it. They told me to just do it. I listened to what that swoosh said.” — Macklemore, Wings

Let’s just admit it; our western culture has so few things that pass as “rites of passage” for our young males. The Vanuatus on the small island in the South Pacific have been doing land diving for 15 centuries, the Hamar tribe in Ethopia does the cow jumping before a male is deemed worthy of marrying a father’s daughter, and the Satere-Mawe tribe in Brazil has boys stick their hand in gloves of bullet ants for ten minutes which is described as “waves of throbbing, all consuming pain” as rites of passage into manhood. In the western world, too often the mentality of rappers and Hollywood celebrities become the model for our youth. In other words, it’s not uncommon for A$AP Rocky, 50 Cent and 2 Chainz to influence what our kids value more than the family.

This activity is out to change that, one year at a time.

The Milltown Athletic Club’s 7th annual MAC Dip into the Puget Sound on New Year’s Day 2014 is one of those efforts to give our young men something to think about as they enter adulthood. This is a chance to step back, ponder what it truly means to be a man — not as glorified in Ice T’s lyrics, but in the eyes of our blue-collar community.

At the same time, while part of the appeal is a symbolic rite of passage for our young males, it’s also a chance for adult males to recommit to living life with passion and enthusiasm.

Here’s how it started: Seven years ago, when my two boys were 11 and 13, we decided we would do something different that New Year’s Day, something to simulate, in perhaps a feeble way, a rite of passage for these young, impressionable males on the cusp of adolescence. The idea was born on a return trip from Stevens’ Pass on New Year’s Eve 2007. That night the word went out at the Everett Soccer Dome gathering that any male over the age of 9 was welcome to join in the first annual MAC Dip at 01:01:08 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2008 at Howarth Park Beach. The first year saw 12 dads and sons take the plunge into Puget Sound. Two years ago, the number peaked at a high of 23.

So, on New Year’s Day, with an insightful message from one of the adults about the challenges and opportunities of being a man in today’s world, and with a shudder of the frigid bodies in anticipation of the Puget Sound’s sub-50 degree water temperature, the hooting and hollering increases in volume and intensity just before the mass hits the water’s edge. Then with full force, the group rushes in with the intention of full submersion, head and all.

It’s always a quick exit for every person, and a mad dash to towels, blankets and hot cocoa. Ahhhh, the hot cocoa.

There’s an esprit de corps among the hearty souls — young and old alike — who braved the elements to take the plunge and do this primarily symbolic gesture.

And, let’s be honest, this is just as much of a benefit for the dads and the older participants as it is for the youngsters. This really is a chance to develop a sense of community. It’s also a chance to recommit to living a life with passion and enthusiasm.

Regardless of the conditions, this little group of guys has been jumping in the Puget Sound for six years now. It would be great if more males over the age of 9 would join us this year. There’s something to be said about sharing this moment with others, especially as we celebrate what really is special in this blue-collar town.

If you wonder why we do this, just consider: “Y.O.L.O.” —You Only Live Once. Dang, that’s also rap song by another Seattle guy.

If you want to join us:

What: Milltown Athletic Club’s 7th Annual MAC Dip

Who: Any male over the age of 9.

When: 01:01:14 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2014.

Where: Howarth Park in Everett.

Why: Because “Y.O.L.O.”

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