Floating in the Pacific Ocean, tropical waters, on the edge of a reef. The prehistoric Na Pali coastline keeps stoic watch from the shore. The surf beckons from the other side of the coral, sometimes gently luring, sometimes furiously demanding. I only notice the difference when I come to the surface to clear my mask. Breathe in, breathe out. Flippers keeping me steady in the surge and current, hands making minor adjustments like the pectoral fins of the fish I'm trying to be one with. Breathe in, breathe out. Snorkel mask tight against my face, allowing me the convincing illusion that I'm a resident of this slightly murky, very salty world. Breathe in, breathe out.
The soothing rhythmic rush of my breathing is nearly drowned out by the snapping crackle of hordes of invisible shrimp declaring their territory.
I taste salt. Primeval, life-creating, sweet salt. I float, bob, breath. I give myself to the vastness and majesty of this saline universe. My body is no longer middle aged, over-indulged limbs and bulges. My body is ocean body, defined by coastlines, not cultural conventions.
Bits of vivid rainbow flair here and there. Aptly named green and red and turquoise Christmas Wrasses. Buttercup yellow Butterfly Fishes. Convict Tangs in their black uniform stripes over pops of lemon. Neon purple and yellow Cleaner Wrasses, the most beautiful garbage men in the universe. A huge Parrotfish, luminescing carnival glass purples, pinks, yellows, blues. Black Surgeonfish suddenly revealed as yellow neon spotted violet in a random ray of sunlight.
One amazing fish, the disappointingly named Yellowtail Coris, is the rainbow all by himself. The colors do not say ROY G. BIV, but they do shout more splendor than even a double rainbow over the Grand Canyon. I lose my breathing in his impossible glory and have to surface to find it again.
A busy Christmas Wrasse draws my attention to a particular coral outcropping. As I focus on his manic dance I realize that he's feeding around the mouth of a Green Sea Turtle - Honu. Honu grazes placidly on the algae patches growing here and there among the nooks and crannies of the reef. His cafe table shell, a nearly invisible mosaic in the brownish green depths, is maneuvered effortlessly from spot to spot with wing-like flippers.
My vision is suddenly blurred. Tears have leapt to the surface to declare the wonder and awe of the moment since words are impossible and salt water is the language of this place. I'm aware of a moan vibrating at the back of my throat, but I swallow it quickly. I want Honu to stay. I want to be in his world for as long as possible. I don't want to offend.
Honu continues to graze intently and peacefully, totally ignoring the Wrasse gleefully consuming his leftovers. I continue to float above him sending silent prayerful petitions for permission to be with him. Finally he drifts toward the surface, ready for air. I stop breathing as his face pauses slightly more than an arm's length from mine. His huge, gentle eyes meet my huge, awe-struck eyes. I send love, respect, admiration. He receives my reverence and surfaces. As he pokes his massive fist of a head into the sea air, I poke my alien masked face up at the same time. Once, twice, a third time we do our synchronized swim moves before he floats back down to his pasture.
We repeat our surface dance twice more before he glides to depths my eyesight can't follow into. Given a choice in that moment, I would shed my humanity for the chance to follow him wherever he went. I'm not given that choice, however, and I comfort myself with the colorful company of our mutual friend Wrasse.
Morning solitude on our third floor lanai. I'm in my chair facing east, facing the Trade Winds, before sunrise. Breathe in, pause, breathe out, pause. Again. Again. My breath and the wind play together in the moist morning air. Roosters crow imperiously and idiotically, mynahs chuckle and cackle, doves coo in coy whispers. I'm aware of the light changing beyond my lids, can feel its radiance growing around me. With a final breathe in, pause, breathe out, pause, my heart sends gratitudes into the morning. I open my eyes to find myself looking full in the face of Light.
Home again. Back to earth. Fifteen days away. No travel worries or hassles. All our luggage home with us in one piece. No injury or illness. All four cats alive, well and happy to see me. (Revenge for being left with a caretaker exacted after I get home - the guest bedding I'm washing for this week's company mysteriously peed upon.) Butterfly bushes have bloomed in my absence, welcoming me home in neon purple and blushing pink, very like the ocean rainbows I've left behind. Flower beds a riot of lipstick red Bee Balm, sun yellow Coreopsis, feathery purple Liatris, singing tangerine Day Lilies. I've traded fish for flowers, but the rainbow of promised hope has followed me home. Hope is the magic revealed. A message so vivid and clear that I trust. I breathe. I pause.