"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Monday, July 23, 2007

Magic Revealed - Water, Air, Earth

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.

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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.









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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.

10 comments:

Eileen said...

Welcome home Deb!!! You were missed. Your post was beautiful, colorful, peaceful and I saw the magic in the water, air and earth. I felt like I was floating, while reading this. Love the pictures too. XOXO

Suzy said...

Glorious vacation...glorious writing!
Loved this-"We repeat our surface dance twice more before he glides to depths my eyesight can't follow into."

Love the reality check -"(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.)
Wonder who peed on the sheets!
Welcome home.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

"I send love, respect, admiration. He receives my reverence and surfaces." Loved every word, but these especially!

Kim said...

Deb, your writing takes my breath away.
"Salt water is the language of this place"--beyond beautiful.

And your dance with Honu was wonderful. A moment in your life I'm sure you'll remember forever.

Welcome home, and enjoy the flowers!

kario said...

I'm tingling! Never again will I be able to snorkel in Hawaii without recalling your gorgeous description. I'm printing this out and keeping it in my vacation file to remind me to slow down and really fully experience every splendor that comes my way.

Love!

Terry Whitaker said...

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.--Just incredible.

Jerri said...

". . .salt water is the language of this place."

May I tell you how wonderful it is to have your words to read again?

Your writing sets up camp in my heart and sings to me of wonder and beauty and love.

Welcome home, friend.

holly said...

I can't even find the right line to quote here. Your writing is so beautiful it blows me away over and over again.

"salt water is the language..." You have such an amazing gift!

love.

grammer said...

This writing is alive with color and air and rainbows of light and the living. So, so beautifully done, Deb.

I love the description of a body defined by coastlines. Brilliant.

I love this too, I think it speaks to a larger awareness:

"I'm aware of the light changing beyond my lids, can feel its radiance growing around me."

There is such radiance within you! Your writing shines. Thank you.
xo t

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

Your writing...exquisite!!

Love this

"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. "

You had me swimming with you! How did you know the names of all of those fish! You are a gifted writer for sure!!!