Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rolling in the deep

     Last Thursday morning, while still in Cozumel, after an hour long boat ride out to a spot in the Carribean, I strapped two oxygen tanks containing 3000 pounds of air to a vest on my back, adjusted my mask and  fins and put a breathing regulator in my mouth. I hoisted myself up on the gunnel of the boat, and on the count of three, threw myself backward into the deep water.
      I wasn't completely unprepared, having taken a class two days before which taught  me techniques, safety basics and how to communicate in the deep. That day we did a " beach dive" going down about 25 feet.  
     Then came Thursday. The day of the reef dives. The day we would descend to about 40-50 feet underwater. Because I am not a certified diver, I was accompanied by a dive instructor the entire time. I knew I was safe. There was a moment, however, as I was purposefully letting the air out of my vest so that I would sink, that I wondered , just what in the hell me, a 57 year old mother and grandmother and usually sane woman, was doing. But I really did know the answer to the question. 
You see, from the time I was about 12, I have had a recurring dream that I am swimming in deep, deep rolling water. The fish are bright and iridescent and the coral beautiful.. 
    The feeling and essence of the dream though, is one of complete and utter freedom. I am always saddened to awaken from it. 
      And so, after years of hearing my friend Sandy talk about her diving experiences, and being invited and encouraged to participate, I knew my dream could become a reality. 
    And it did. It was as if I was living that dream, which in itself was overwhelming.  I think the power of what I experienced mainly,  was the melding of my conscious and subconscious minds. Contemplating THAT truly blew me away.
     My dive instructor Roberta and I had decided before going down, that the sign language expression for "beautiful" would be what I would use to express myself, since thumbs up means " I need to go up".  If you can shout in sign language, I did. Over and again. The beauty caused me to forget I was breathing underwater. 
      I can't even begin to think I could do it justice by trying to paint a word picture of what I saw. It is truly like traveling to another dimension. A life- sized aquarium. And we need to protect this earth of ours. I am a woman of faith, with my own definitions, and what I saw? Oh yes. Yes indeed. Not humanly created.
     I've been told I'm good at this and that in my life, but apparently I'm really good at, (as they say in the diving world), "air." Who knew? Because I didn't use my air too quickly, I could stay down longer.    Which is why I was able to swim as far as "the wall". It  is a reef wall(I think?) where, on the other side, there is ahuge cave, that drops down 100 plus feet. Experienced  divers  who reach the bottom, often tattoo the name of it on their body. I briefly swam above it, looking down, and it was amazing. It was, as I imagine, like being in space. It is an intense blue  and it feels as if you are gazing into the abyss.

Endless. Amazing. Glory filled.

The dive started out as the fulfillment of an unconscious dream. It became so much more. 

It became a realization of who I have become. Strong, and able to breathe when breathing is anything but natural. I choked up on thanking Roberta, who has thousands of dives under her belt. I told her that for me it was so  much more than the scenery. It was about practicing trust- I'm not very good at trusting-and I  had to trust her with my life. It became about strength- mental and physical. And it was about believing that for those two hours, I could do anything. Anything. And that as in my dream, I was completely and utterly free.

An unbelievable experience.
On the journey.