Friday, March 12, 2010

Inspiration and Salvation from the Deep

I don't know about you, but there are times when I feel overwhelmed up to my uvula with the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, yet feel overwhelmingly empty at the same time.

I guess my mind is filled with things that shouldn't bear thinking about, things that make me go d'oh! and d'uh? Things that I know don't make sense, but which still drive my one poor remaining brain cell into needless overdrive. Things that leave me questioning, unfulfilled, and empty.

It's during times like these I want to just dive into the deep, deep, blue. To leave my cares and worries up on the surface, where they can do the Macarena with the sunlight on the waves. To go deep, deep, deep, where they can't follow me. I just want to go where it's calm and blue and peaceful, a place where even the cold ceases to be a bother, a place where I can blissfully not give a shit where up or down or left or right is. A place where I don't have to care. A place where uncertainty, expectation, frustration, and disappointment don't exist.

Then my mind goes back to the time last year, when I did dive into the deep, deep blue of nothingness. (Well, I snorkeled actually, but what the hey.) I didn't do it to escape anything; no, not at all. I did it to see whether the creatures I had previously only read about and seen on TV were as awesome as they were said to be.

They were more than awesome. The first sight of them made me suck in my breath -- which isn't a good thing, something that dumbass snorkelers like me manage to forget. I ended up with lungfuls of seawater the first few minutes. But I'd had my glimpse of the first of those wonderful animals, and I wasn't going to settle for just a peek. So down again I went.

Swimming with those magnificent creatures -- it was an experience I will never, EVER forget. Mimi Lenox, the Queen of Bloggingham Palace (yes, she's royalty *curtsey, bob, bow*) dubbed me the woman who "Swims with Whale Sharks." You know, something kinda like Kevin Costner's Dances-with-Wolves or maybe Linda Lovelace's Swallows-It-All. (OK, I made that last part up. But she did, didn't she?)

I jokingly asked a friend to call me "Mistress of the Universe," but that's a title I can hardly live up to. I just thought it sounded super cool.

Before the encounter with the whale sharks, the guide told us that the whale sharks weren't to be touched. But I couldn't help myself, especially since they seemed to play with me, rising up and up until they were just inches away from me, letting my fingertips stroke them. Then they sank into the deep where I couldn't follow, to swim away. (Their skin felt like mossy stone to the touch, btw.)

In the video clip above, you can hear me uttering something like "Uhhhh-ooohhh-uhhhh-hmmmm-ahhhhh-ohhhhh" in at least two octaves to the whale shark. I was actually saying something like "you unbelievably beautiful, magnificent, unbelieveable gorgeous creature, you! Ohh you're incredible." That was just one whale shark in this vid; I swam with several of these awe-inspiring beings in one hour. And I crooned orgasmically to them all as well.

In those timeless, saltwater-soaked moments, the world as I knew it ceased to exist. Or maybe I should say the world shrank to something that was a lot smaller, but something that took on an awesome and awful dimension. In a way, it scared the hell out of me, but it liberated me at the same time. It was like I had found myself, at the same time finding something bigger within and without me. For a few moments, for a few deafening heartbeats, it was just me, that space of sea, and the whale sharks undulating inches from me. And I was unspeakably, ineffably happy.

Those whale sharks and the experience of swimming with them taught me a lesson. So now, whenever my world seems heavy and grey, I shut out everything I don't need and revel in the moment. That moment can include a child's slobbery kiss and tight hug, or maybe a friend making me laugh so hard I'm waking up my kids from their sleep, or maybe just watching the clouds turn pink, then russet, then a breathtaking orange at sunset.

It doesn't matter what it is or where I am. Deep blue sea or not, problems be damned, I'm learning to find happiness in the here and now.