Saturday, December 16, 2006

Past, present, and future

Can you be transported from the womb to old age in one day? If so, then today was the day it happened to me.

It all started this morning, when I finally completed my Open Water Diving certification. This was my final chance to get certified before Mr. T and I go on our dream vacation, so it was now or never!

Due to bad weather and high surf at the beach, we ended up diving at Mission Point, a calm, sandy inlet. As I waddled into the cold water, it was apparent that the visibility was disturbingly low. Because I had to get one more dive in before my trip, I popped my regulator into my mouth at my teacher's request and began my descent.

As the pressure of the water squeezed the wetsuit to my body, I looked around me and saw...NOTHING! A cloud of silt surrounded me, enveloping me in a claustrophobic cocoon. I tried to control my breathing as a feeling of paranoia overwhelmed me. I couldn't see my instructor or my companions anywhere, I couldn't even see my hands in front of me...I was completely alone!

I felt the ebb and flow of the currents rocking my body as I remained suspended in the murky depths. I became hypnotized by the sounds of my own breathing, a tinny inhalation of compressed air followed by a rumbling exhalation of hundreds of bubbles. For a moment, I envisioned myself inside my mother's womb: unseeing, constrained by the tautness of her tissues, and conscious only of her rythmic breathing. It was an intensely discomforting sensation...

A few seconds later, a hand grasped mine and broke me from my reverie. My instructor started to guide me through the darkness and I clutched his gloved hand, thankful to leave behind the feeling of aloneness that had sent shivers down my spine. I swam blindly next to him for what seemed like a couple of minutes, and then...LIGHT! We surfaced from the murky depths with gratitude and recovered from our unearthly experience.

"How long were we under?", one of the students asked.

"Ten minutes," responded the instructor. Ten minutes??? We all agreed it felt like two minutes...What had happened?!?!

My diving experience completed, I headed home. While walking my dog around the neighborhood and pondering the morning's unsettling experience, I caught sight of a flashy red convertible coming down the road. Driving it - with the top down in 50 degree weather - was a lovely old lady in her 70's wearing a large white hat. Our eyes met and she gave me a radiant smile as she drove past.

At that moment, I realized I had just seen my future. I have struggled with an unfulfilled passion for convertibles since the age of nine, when I dreamed of one day owning a WV Rabbit. My love for hats dates back even farther: from the age of two I would refuse to travel on airplanes or attend special family occasions without wearing a hat. But it was the smile, the glorious, happy, radiant smile of someone who is at peace with her life, which cemented our unspoken bond.

I smiled back, joyful in the knowledge that I don't have to wait forty years...I am at peace with my life today.

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Blogger Jay said...

That's really great.
I think there is magic underwater, it's always amazing how easily you can leave the rest of the world behind.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Chiada said...

Really good post. I enjoyed reading it! It brought back memories of when I went through dive school to get my certification..when I was 13! Good ol' California diving: murky. I've only ever dived off of Refugio Beach on the Central Coast. There've been good clear days, and bad murky days. Congrats on passing! And I love your description of the older lady.

3:46 PM  

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