Snorkeling off a sandy beach
Snorkeling alone, diving down, emulating the movements of the colorful fish nations all around, one forgets about time. One forgets about the images formed in thought that occupy space between beings, keeping us from real relationship. We are that relationship, truly are, timelessly connecting in the deep blue. Understanding the needs of the beings in their liquid environment, and how to maneuver safely, is the obligation. The ocean herself is the boss. Blissful learning and communion are the work. The tides are the schedule. And when it starts to get rough out there, that’s when one clocks out.
The tides are both orderly and chaotic. Like weather patterns, we can make rough predictions of when they will swell and surge and when they’ll remain calm. But there is no ironclad predictive measure. There are rogue waves. There are freak storms causing rough tides. In Hawaii, we have surges so large, we call them King Tides. You do not want to be caught in one of these. If you’re a novice snorkeler, you don’t even want to be caught in high tide, but if you swim a lot you eventually will be. The key to reemerging back into the world of land and air and not being swept out to sea forever depends on where you are in the water. If you are out in the depths swimming in, the key is to stay submerged. Looking up means seeing the waves thundering at you, crashing onto shore. It’s frightening up there, but if you just put your head back in the water and swim with the current, you’ll likely be okay. The crashing and the fear happen out of the flow. Submerged in the flow, there are no worries. There’s no sense of what you just saw with your own eyes.
Look at the fish. The fish don’t care. They get tossed with the sea, too, and they’re fine. Of course they breathe water and we breathe air, so you have to get back on land before you get fatigued. If you swim with the current, staying in the moment, submerged in the flow, for as long as possible, you will likely make it out unharmed. Most people make it to where they can stand, take off their fins, and try to walk or run out of the water, only to get thrashed by the next wave. It may seem counterintuitive, but swimming as far as possible—which means right up to where your belly touches the bottom—and then getting out is an easier way to go. I do that. Then I look up to see what the tide is doing. If I’m about to get thrashed by a wave, I stay in the swimming position. I go with it. Fighting it is the worst. Eventually there is a calm period where I’ll have a moment to get out unscathed. I may have time to take off my fins; I may not.
Constant, unbroken awareness is the key. Thought gets in the way. Thought says, “I have a routine, a program I follow: plop butt on beach as soon as I can, take off flippers, get up and go.” But if the ocean is saying, “You’re still too close to me. I will hurt you if you stay,” you’d better awkwardly flip-flop on out of there to a safe distance. This is the lesson of routine as a form of arrogance and you will learn it the hard way.
Different rules apply to different environments. We cannot collapse them all into our familiarity and control the situation. In some places we can do that for a time and so we feel like we can do it in all situations. But even in those places where we can terraform to our comfort level, there comes a breaking point. We may be able to bend the uniqueness of an area that we find charming until it resembles us more than itself anymore, but killing it off will eventually mean killing ourselves off. The end result of that drive to collapse everything into our desires is that we wind up alone on a planet that creates interconnection and thrives on relationship. We don’t kill the planet, we kill ourselves, and Earth moves on to a new art project.
But these lessons—the who we are, who we aren’t, who we’re pretending to be, and the spatial sensations we’ve created to go along with our illusions… these are all spelled out and dissolved in the flow. Truth is all around us and swimming through us. Wild nature forces us to let go and look. Forces us further to be wild nature, not just passive observers divorced from it, for in our hearts we are that. We are not just logic and reason. We are not just feeling and emotion. We are the contents of the flow and the flow herself. We understand this in a flash when submerged in her. It’s only when we break from flow that we feel and fear the forces of time and space. This is not the place we built, this ocean. Fear and reaction may kill us.
To survive the ocean, be the ocean. Or else ye forever be the ocean. Metaphorically or literally, it matters not, fused together as they are.
Fused together as we are.