One of the smartest people I know, and my good friend, Jennifer Holcomb, is an incredibly talented writer. She has that gift of writing where you feel like you are right there in the moment, it is my favorite type of writing to read. The kind of work that gets you to want to try something new, push your limits, and get lost in different space… even if only while your in the process of scanning the page. This is on my top ten list of best stories I have read. Originally published on the Olukai web site, and we thank them for it’s use. Enjoy… then get out and dive.
Down. Under. Up.
Kicking down I followed a ray of light along the wall. From the surface I had seen the arch through the maze of coral some 20 feet below and I set about to dive down to it. One deep breath, and kicking like a metronome I made my way along.
Down. Under. Up. I was free diving, in a sense.
Breaking through the shimmer of blue, I spat out the last of my breath blithely into the sun, aware that I had accomplished what I set out to do. I might have also seen a turtle. I think the bottom was sandy. Perhaps I saw an octopus but probably just a plastic bag. I was supposed to be at work, being creative. I was in the water for fun. As it were, the responsibilities of one were strangling the magic of the other.
I dove again concentrating on not concentrating on my breath holds. In my mind, I wandered my house, recalling my things and what I still had to do today, so that as I swam deeper I wouldn’t think about the pain in my chest as my lungs curled tighter. As I passed under the arch I panicked because, though I’d been here before, I realized I had just crossed the point of no return and I couldn’t fight the irrational thoughts about being trapped. Every part of me screamed to breathe. I flailed wildly for a second, catching my heel on the arch and scaring myself into a frenzied sprint to the surface.
Safe, I rolled prone through the crystalline water, breathing haggardly through my snorkel, noticing for a moment the warm sun on my back as I starfished across the surface, laughing as a way to forget, and determined to find my next “adventure.” But lolling with the swell, things started to come loose. I could hear the water washing across the shore more than the lists in my head. I didn’t much care anymore that I needed to get back.
I dove again, but this time followed an uhu, smiling because he was turquoise and pink and was rowing his fins lazily in the way that parrot fish do. The noise that I’d brought down bubbled away. I realized I had been missing something. I could hear the whale songs, and my heartbeat. I noticed past the edges of myself.
I found the skylight in the lava tube and dove to the arch again. Coral broke the startling blue in fans and heads of riotous color. I was sure that Dr. Seuss must have been a free diver; bulbous, pointy, round and spiraled, the ocean makes shapes in colors we only dream about. Moorish idols, yellow tangs, unicorns, butterflies, sergeant majors, surgeons and puffers darted past, parades of color rolling in the gentle swell.
I followed a ray of light across the coral wall. One deep breath, and kicking like a metronome I made my way along.
Down. Under. Up. I was free.