Myth suggests that by the time one realizes s/he is thirsty, it is too late to hydrate. If the myth encourages one to stay hydrated, then it probably does not harm. However, if one is thirsty and decides to press on, ignoring the messages from within, one potentially harms one’s self for no reason except ignorance. Experience and research equally suggest it is never too late to hydrate! Your body is primarily concerned with its wellbeing. Ignoring the early signs is choosing to be not smart and potentially foolish.
As I rode a scooter under the midday sun in Bali, I realized I was overheating. When my thirst hit, I realized I was really overheating! With an apology, I turned to those with me and let them know that I needed to take a break. Water, shade, and a breeze were the priorities. I needed to stop and now.
As we talked in the shade quenching our thirst, I spoke of my experience with thirst. There have been good times and bad. Hydrating in advance helps but it is never the complete answer. Waiting too long, especially when I have compounded my mistake by pressing on because I am almost there, has never led to a positive outcome. Inevitably I struggle with a headache and worse. What makes it especially irritating is that I know better! There have been too many rounds where I did not listen. In each, the heat has extracted a price, the lack of water forced me to stop, and I physically could not carry on.
Even as I recollected, I wondered what it would take to break the cycle. In an age of plenty, I willfully choose to go without. An old writer noted that in one case a benefactor “poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.” (Psalm 107.9) As needed as it was, were there options to have come in well fed and thirsty? Was there something they, or I could do.
Today started with water. It is a smart choice.