25 07 2007

One of my favorite words in Spanish is the word for deep. When I tried to describe Lake Atitlan in Guatemala as very deep, my teacher replied, “You mean to say that it is profound.” Indeed. In my life, profound is a much better adjective for the ocean than deep. I fell in love with the word immediately.

When I left Belize, a fellow traveler passed me a book on a boat at 6:00 a.m. Aimee and I had spent some time with her and her boyfriend, but I was a little surprised when she gifted me a book and said emphatically, “I know you’d really like this.”

Constantly throughout these last two months, I am amazed by how quickly people can figure me out, and how often their impressions are accurate. However, when I looked down at the cover, my face fell.

You may have seen the book before. The cover is filled with pasta, flowers and something else, and the title is “Eat, Pray, Love.” I had seen it in the U.S. and figured it was another story of a woman finding herself in the midst of a rocky divorce and a scoop of gelato. I wasn’t interested.

“Is it really good?” I asked innocently. She nodded. “REALLY good??” I pressed. “Did you love it?”

“I think you’ll like it.” She said firmly, with an expression like, “Just take it and read it, will you? What is the big deal?”

Mainly out of courtesy, I accepted the gift. It sat in my bag for about a week, and I would look at it and roll my eyes, as if it was an old cliche. Finally, out of desparation for something to read, I began.

Now, I don’t really know if it’s a great book. It’s good, but is it great? I’m still not sure. However, it was perfect for me right here, right now. The first one hundred pages document her time in Italy, and are almost entirely filled with descriptions of pizza and gelato flavors. After my four months in Italy, I can read that stuff all day long. It felt like watching re-runs of “Family Ties.” Ah, the memories and flavors flood back.

In the next section, the author goes to India in search of her spiritual self. I surprisingly ate this up as well, as she described simple meditations and mere desires to find balance, peace, and spiritual understanding. I would say that I’ve let that part of myself sleep for most of the past two months, and reading her ambition somehow awakened a new yearning inside me.

So, why do I write all this? I’m getting there. Back to our profound ocean. So, I’m on this island and I’m trying to process and regroup and find a little more peace and balance to wrap up these past weeks, and I sort of woke up and realized, “Hey, you’re on the ocean, Jocelyn. THE OCEAN, remember??????”

I have always felt like the ocean is part mine. I don’t mean that I own it, but that I have a part in it, I’m somehow connected to it. During the oh-so-fun adolesence, I would often go to the beach, and time spent staring at the ocean was the only thing that would ground me and give the world some sense. In San Francisco, I would walk up and down Ocean Beach after long days of teaching, and only there could I finally process the chaos of trying to both teach and love my students.

I also have recurrent dreams about the ocean. It usually starts with me, floating or swimming in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden, I notice that I am surrounded by orcas, and I start to panic. They are killer whales, after all.

I violently swim and swim, the waves taking me over and under, and then, I usually end up at shore, and it turns out the orcas were just little fish. There was no danger at all. Not a hard dream to analyze, but still. I have it at least once every six months. The ocean and me; we are tight.

So, I wake up Monday morning and decide to go for my first run in a long time, to begin my processing phase. And when I’m done, one thing is obvious to me. I need to spend some time with the ocean. In fact, I need to be in it, submerge myself in it, let it eat me up. I am going to scuba dive. I come to this decision as if I’m introducing myself to myself. “You’re going to scuba dive. It’s going to happen today. Here you go.”

I really had no plans of scuba-diving here. I’m absolutely terrified of it and it is going to take all my time this week to get certified. Sort of eats into my plan for journaling, beaching, and generally being purposeless.

However, I’m doing it. It”s happening. Now, I realize that it’s a fun sport and I don’t need to have some existential reason for doing it. But for me, in this case, the ocean isn’t just deep; it’s profound.

I found a Dive Shop that looked safe enough given that I recognized it from my friends’ Emily and Jon’s pictures when they were here. Hey, they both still have their lungs. Can’t be too bad.

My teacher has a British accent, which is amazingly calming for me. For example, when he says, “So, if you forget to breathe on your ascent, your lungs can overexpand and possibly rupture, causing paralysis or death,” it doesn’t sound so bad in British. (Say it to yourself in a British accent and you’ll agree.)

So, here I go. Just completed dives one and two and we are in business. It’s pretty fun to surprise yourself from time to time. I highly recommend it. As my teacher would say, and as I now say to all of you, “Just give it a go.”



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