Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Water Dance

     The Gulf has always been my sanctuary beginning with two week long family vacations when I was a child. I remember one such summer, I was probably between eight and nine and I had graduated to the swim alone phase, but not too far. I ventured out to my appropriate spot. I would jump in the air as the swells came to shore and where my height and small frame could not lift me, the swell would lift me higher. It was like flying.
     This day, however, was not meant for playing leap frog with the swells. The undertow or rip tide had made its way to my little playground. I leapt up with the swell to fly. The swell was deeper than I realized. I could not leap high enough. The swell knocked me over and under the water. The undertow quickly grabbed me. I still remember, after all these years, doing the most fantastic summersaults underneath the water as the undertow began to carry me out as it withdrew its arms back into the Gulf.
     The immediacy of the moment, the thrill of being carried by the tide and the summersaults quickly left when I went to gasp for air and inhaled water. I do not recall what I thought or whether I “assessed” the situation. My floundering arms underneath the water, the sandy cloudy vision and burning eyes trying to see under the water, and inability to breathe I’m sure told my brain – not good!
    Suddenly, mid summersault, my floundering arms met a solid object and my arm was almost yanked out of my shoulder socket. My father hands, clenched around my wrist, pulled me from the suction and I literally soared into the air. The remainder of the vacation was spent on the beach. I was not allowed back into the water.
    I’m considerably older now but I still return to the Gulf as often as I can. And when I cannot, there you will find my spirit day dreaming. There are times I remember that day and think how fortunate I was to survive. And then, there are days, like today, when I think, with wonder, awe, and total abandonment, what it would be like to breathe underwater. I dream about dancing, doing summersaults, riding the swells and just sitting on the bottom and breathing. Submersion and surrender as I simply breathe underwater. Today, I decided to not wait. In my mind, in my spirit, in my heart I dove in, jumped with the swells, and then released myself to sink to the bottom. Today, I breathed underwater, and it was grand.