Wednesday, November 16, 2016
As long as I am a mermaid, everything will be okay. That's what I keep telling myself, and it works. Because at the end of the day, if I allow myself to become positively buoyant, let the salt water penetrate my skin and allow my toes to slip on the algae, dig into the crushed sea glass and sand particles to the point that I become so distracted with oceanic experiences, that land matters become insignificant, then my world becomes perfectly balanced. I now have to focus on the tide, the current, the bubbles, the rocks, the creatures, the horizon, things that are much bigger and more powerful than me, more powerful than anything weighing me down on land. I use the ocean in that way, to ground me and as a gateway to another world where I can release my energies and absorb new energies and enjoy a reciprocal relationship with something I respect and I truly believe relishes in the joy that I entrust.
There is a rock that I swim over often, in a tide pool that I love to float in. When I first put my foot down on this rock, I felt something make contact with my foot, much like a cat does, making contact, rubbing against skin to show affection. At first I was scared, I felt something rub against the top of my foot, and I jerked my foot away in fear. I was afraid because I couldn't see it, but at the same time, it was gentle and not aggressive, so I was intrigued. The second time, it rubbed against my foot and even grabbed onto me for a second then let go.
I quickly looked below into the clear water and saw nothing. I went each day to this rock and each time I put my foot down, after a few moments I would feel something contact my foot, lay itself onto me and grab a little. I would look and it would be gone. It was a mystery and I was determined to figure out what was occurring, what it was.
The other day, I dove in, swam in between the underwater boulders over to the tide pool and let my body relax. The big rock was next to me and I laid back, floating, allowing my feet to rest upon it. Sure enough after a few minutes, I felt something curl around my foot, as if hugging it. I stayed calm, dipped my head below the water and saw a tako, octopus, it's body, half of it hidden in a crevice and the other half out, hugging my foot. It was magical and beautiful. This leggy little creature had attached it's suction cups to my foot and was connected to me. The ocean was rocking me, the sky was blue, the water was cascading over the rocks behind me and I thought, as long as I'm a mermaid, everything will be okay. This little creature was not hurting me, but it seemed like he just needed a hug. I lay there and let him curl around my foot and then he gently let go and went back into his little cave. I dove down to try and find him and blow him an underwater kiss, and thank him for the hug.
Little did he know, I really needed a hug that day. I am thankful for my new ocean friend.
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature, it will never fail you." - Frank Lloyd Wright
Monday, October 5, 2015
I was fine standing chest deep in the ocean. There was a fleeting moment where I forgot why I was standing there. The water was eighty degrees and I could see the laugh lines of the ocean and my naked toes perfectly planted on the bottom. I don’t recall sound, but I remember feeling as if I was sharing a giant hot tub with a hundred unfamiliar faces, most of them branded red with a patchwork quilt like burn from the sun, and their pasty white spots alarming, leaving me pondering the capitol of the Midwest state they were from. I squinted, looked back at shore, and then up and down the coast and thought, how is it possible that I am standing here right now? This is like a postcard I carried around as a child. It’s like a dream.
“And then we are going to go one by one, and I will give you the hand signal, and it will be your turn to demonstrate what you have learned. Do you understand?”
It was the dive instructor, Steve, and I was pulled back to reality just as the tide pulled those perfectly straight lines under my toes into a genuine curve of a smile on the bottom of the ocean. It was time to walk out and then descend into the place where I have often felt the most peaceful in my entire life, under the sea. I had a wand in my hand that was connected to me, and I held it up over my head and pushed the gray button to deflate the vest I was encased in to initiate my sink to the bottom.
I disappeared, a few feet down, but an overwhelming feeling that I was taking my last breath sent a panic through me and I popped back up through the surface, wanting to take the regulator out of my mouth and breathe normal air again. I cursed myself and tried again, pushing the gray button, and dipped below the surface. This time I could hear my breath resounding in my ears, coming in quick short intakes with very little going out and it didn’t sound right. Back up to the surface. This is not how I breathe unless I am in some state of ecstasy or being chased by a wolf, why I am I doing this now? Get your shit together and get to the bottom already. And so I did. Just like that I refused to surrender to the panic and to any fears that were ripping that beautiful postcard of a life I have apart, and I pushed the gray button for the last time and sunk straight to the bottom.
There were others in the group slightly worse off than me, so while the instructor fussed over them, I took those moments to quiet myself, appreciate the beautiful sound of a woman breathing calmly under water, and allowed myself to fully mesh with the ocean, and for once not feel so small at its feet, but instead, a fluid, engaging entity within it. It was in those first five minutes that I felt my life was forever going to be changed.
It’s the quiet that gets me every time, whether I am swimming or snorkeling or just floating above with my ears just below the surface. The precise absence of noise has literally picked up my soul and set it down exactly where it has needed to be more than any vice I’ve ever sought out to do the same. I scanned the edges of visibility where light faded to dark and instead of feeling scared of what may lurk beyond, I felt like I was home, and nothing in my life under the blazing sun above mattered in those moments because I was gone, away, under the sea.
Our dive team headed out deeper into the abyss, and before beautiful things began appearing to distract me, I couldn’t help but muse upon and feel proud of mankind for finding a way for a girl like me to breathe under water. Then I saw another patchwork quilt like pattern embedded into the sand below. It was giant sea turtle’s weathered shell, primal and antique. I’ve seen turtles before but now I could, from a respectable distance, lie down in the sand and stare gently into his wise, dark, sleepy eyes and pretend I was taking an afternoon nap below the ocean and bury my own fins in the silt in a lazy sea creature kind of way.
The coral cities were amazing and each little fish, eel and spikey inhabitant had its own town house, Dr. Seuss like, built upward and outward in a sun bleached primary color, and some residents seemed busy while others were rooted and I glided above and in between their structures peering into all the little windows like a voyeur. I saw my first coral tree, the kind you see pieces of broken in bits in a glass bowl on your grandmothers dresser, but this was the real deal, fully intact and stood two feet tall. It was white and sadly damaged due to coral bleaching but it was still beautiful, branching out in a jagged imperfect, perfect kind of way. It struck me that my love of nature in the above world was going to be fulfilled down here, in the underworld as well.
As I made my way back toward shore I swam close to the outer wall of the coral city, and noticed caves down below. Perfect stone colored arches with dark interiors forming the foundation of the city above. I’ve heard about these caves that “the sharks live in.” Whether that is true or not, it did not deter me from descending lower to take a peek but I saw only void space and swiftly moved on so as not to let my invasive curiosity ruin a perfectly beautiful day.
As we entered the shallows I saw limbs dangling above me, hands and feet, totally unaware that I was below. Snorkelers. I suddenly felt like I had evolved into a sea creature, experiencing a visit into my home by some strange creatures from above. Their total innocent ignorance sent shivers down my spine and I took one last look at the caves behind me before I headed toward the surface.
The bubbles I blew were beautiful, like flying saucers, big clear disc like shapes with sunlight bending in them and little bubbles like moons orbiting around them like their mother planet.
My tank was heavy as I walked myself up onto the shore. As I stepped out of the giant hot tub, the pasty faces were watching me, and the sound came back. Children were laughing, the waves were playfully spanking the shoreline and unlike the usual bolt of energy to my soul that high adventure ocean sports give me, I felt unusually calm. I didn’t even feel like talking about it or celebrating it in my usual effervescent way. It felt very sacred to me. I looked to the horizon and gave a telepathic thank you to the ocean and to the universe for painting me into the perfect postcard, and delivering me down under.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
It is dawn, and we dip our fingers in the sand to check the tide line from the night before to ensure our tents won’t get washed away. We seek beautiful canopy trees for shade and to hang our hammocks. Within the hour we are unpacking, the sun is building its fire, and we are in teeny bikinis, drinking prosecco and chanting "Treat Yourself 2015," our motto for the adventurous summer ahead.
I was ready for a volt of energy to my internal battery, for some genuine touchy feely with nature, and also just the comfort of being with a friend that takes no offense to the absence of chatter, and happily waves goodbye as she paddles toward the horizon while I slip gently into dreams on a hand woven hammock. I need new marketing strategies for my book, blog ideas bursting from my brain, and to focus on one of the many book ideas doing somersaults in my head. It seems counter active to put it all to rest and go play, but nothing brings out the creativity in me more than the artistic expression of nature in all its colors and movement. It creates a vibration that courses through me, right out through my fingertips onto the keyboard and cannot be ignored.
We dropped into a simple routine while never looking at a clock and having little to no service on our mobile devices. In the soft glow of the morning sun, we pushed our paddle boards out into the ocean and floated above the calm, clear water, in awe of the complex ecosystem of the underwater world. The tide was low and ancient coral gardens stuck out of the water like buildings bursting through clouds. We navigated between them, got down on our tummies, put on our snorkel masks and stuck our faces into the ocean to check out the coral gardens. I let my hands and feet just dangle off the board and into the water while my board bobbed gently on the surface. Black, fiery red, and cobalt blue sea urchins with alarming sharp spikes stuck tight to the coral as fish of all sizes busied themselves around them, keeping distance and flitting in and out of the cavernous sea boulders. Eels with elastic bodies weaved in out of dark holes, opened their mouths and bared sharp teeth, reminding me to keep my toes up. The biggest sea turtle I have ever seen swam by, his shell weathered and scarred, and I couldn’t help but say “hello sweet one,” out loud, in the high pitched voice I reserve for speaking to creatures. The colors in the underworld reef electrified me, evoking the desire to splash paint on canvas and be more descriptive in my writing than I have ever been.
We spent the afternoon anchored by a rock and rope, wearing floppy hats and drinking Summer Shandy, while floating in blow up rafts just beyond the shore pound. Occasionally a giggle would break the silence as we acknowledged how downright spoiled we are to be living this beautiful life here on Maui, with beauty exploding like fireworks around us. “It’s just not perfect enough,” one of us would say in jest, causing a fit of laughter and my raft to flip over. I drank a lot of beer mixed with sea water that day.
In the evening we surfed, becoming more vocal, cheering each other on as the crests of wobbly waves rose up and either sent me on my face or gliding smoothly down the line towards the shore. We exhausted our arms and overheated our skin in the oceanic playground until the sun bowed out and sent us back to camp. We ate, we drank, we danced in the sand with disco pointers, and when our bodies shut down, we used our minds to explore the constellations and speak deeply about the universe and our small place in the great expanse. As I rested my head on my pillow that night, I looked at the moon through the screen in my tent and thought, I love being a writer that is inspired by nature, and then fell asleep allowing the vivid details and adventures of the day to brew up glorious stories in my mind.
All of my writing has my love of nature woven into it. I challenge you to pay attention to the intricate details around you, the colors, sounds and movement, and allow it to interact with your senses. I promise that the peace or fury of nature will bring forth surges of inspiration, descriptive words, and a deeper connection to yourself, which will enhance your writing, or if anything, your soul.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
I waited for a puff from the wind gods and launched seamlessly, doing a belly flop to spare my toes of cuts from the rocky bottom below. My legs dangled behind, softly kicking as I body dragged out farther than normal, waiting for that feeling of the catch the kite gets when you've reached the wind line. Up I rose and I edged hard heading to the corner pocket above the boneyard into the new territory I have been exploring.
I like it over here above the boneyard. The boneyard is an area with a craggy reef bed just below the surface and has been proven to be merciless during low tide on expensive fins and bodies when tricks go wrong. To me it holds an aura of mystery where long sharks cruise and some pretty perfect long boarding waves peel up over the reef and though I've paddled through it on my surfboard, I'm just starting to examine it from above in an entirely different way.
I was with my girlfriends and we bolted toward the horizon in a synchronized way, diving and working our kites, taking us out toward the horizon. I checked for the safety signs as I headed out. The signs that say for now my kite will not fall out of the sky. There were clouds hanging heavy above the West Maui Mountains, nestled into the crevice of each ridge and up the coast there were windsurfers and kiters keeping their sails in the air. I let this momentary sense of security fill me with unfounded bravery, parked my kite in perfect wind and found myself hanging ten on the edge of the deep blue.
Wow! It's not the most creative word but it's all that I could think as I let the visual assault of beauty overcome me and my cheeks rose in a huge smile. I wanted to reach down and grab a handful of sand in the shallow water in it's most beautiful ecru, blonde beautiful color. Turquoise water, a reflection of the glorious sky above, was creating a batik style tapestry with the sand to my delight. I could not remember a day in seven years of kiting on Maui filled with scenery as beautiful as this day.
When I start talking to the elements, I know then that my soul is being fed and once I told the ocean and the wind that I loved it I began singing songs about little wave ramps and serrated coral hoping that my songs would coax creatures out of hiding to come swim and catch waves with me.
I jumped off ramps launching high into the sky and then found myself sinking into the shallow water, my bottom scraping the reef and then bursting through the surface laughing and looking for my kite in the sky and looking for my friends, wondering how I got to be so lucky to be loved by and in love with this big beautiful entity called nature.
Friday, June 20, 2014
The wind seemed light, but I knew I was going anyway. Everyday issues were starting to build up on me like barnacles clinging to the hull of a serried cargo ship. I launched my ten meter kite and headed out to sea. I like kiting because of the feeling I get heading out into a space that has no visual end point that I can see. The smaller the shore gets and the bigger the expanse in front of me, the calmer I feel. Sometimes I wish to keep going, then with reluctance make the turn at the edge of the deep blue, knowing there is no permanence out here for me. The sea draws me out and away and somehow always seems to match my mood. When I'm happy I can see the sand below, beneath the beautiful turquoise and turtles come up to greet me. When I'm feeling dark inside the sea rises up choppy and erratic and cloud cover gives it a menacing dark look that I openly embrace and tangle with.
Today was a little bit of both and once all was forgotten I felt exploratory and peacefully alone out there. Such beauty can be found in solitary moments. I rode above the sharp reef in the boneyard and made mental imprints of the shapes whizzing by below and thought that the coral looked tired and weak. I marveled at the fleeting changes in depth making note of how the terrain would present itself in both high tide and low. Every pitch and drop of a windswept wave was eye candy to me making me want to carve through it all like a field of moguls.
I snapped out of my big video game when I saw my friend joyfully fly by enjoying the same space as I and gave her a wave and a hoot, the same stoked out tone I address the elements with as I ride. I often sing and talk to nature while I kite, as if it cares, or is listening. I like to believe there is some reciprocity in my relationship with it, that it will continue to treat me well if I spew my admiration for it in an uninhibited way. There is no denying that it is fully alive and I can't help but share how alive it makes me feel.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Today I swam free, out into the ocean. I journeyed along the bottom allowing my belly to skim the sand below and ran my fingertips along the cragged surface of rocks and soft sea grass taking up residence in it's pores. I watched schools of fish keep a stoic sea cucumber company and tried to find love in my heart for the cucumber, this uncomely little creature lying lifeless in the sea. I allowed it's peaceful nature to cohere to me, making me feel weightless, hovering above.
White with black stripes and black with pink noses, the fish were playful and bright and seemed unafraid, welcoming me into their pack for a joyous swim on a sunny day. My body began moving in a different way as if my feet were bound in a mermaid tail and my movement seemed fluid as if I truly belong in the world below, with the sun caressing my back and my hair flowing free.
Bleached bones of crabs and lobster tails, white shells and coral were nestled snug among the granular base. I chose tricky paths, weaving in between boulders, narrow tight spaces, being brushed by nature, getting a closer look. I skimmed the reef along the very bottom peering into the darkness looking for the eyes of an eel. Come out eel and show me your teeth, your sinewy body, and smile at me in your devious way so I can also find it in me to love you too.
The ocean floor smiled with linear wrinkles of light and beauty cast down from the almighty sun above. I flipped over and relaxed into my favorite pose, arms overhead, head back and just floated above fish and rocks and beautiful things. The moon was out in the bright blue sky and I stayed until dark so I could see it's face clearer. I swam to the edge and beached myself, sinking into the sand, fighting the tide that was pulling me back, begging me to stay. I stood up and stood tall at the ocean's edge and thanked it again for sustaining my soul.