Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wu wei diving with?

There is something about water that is just so... Well, a hundred words seem to go through my mind, and while any of them can fit and complete that sentence, nothing really seems to express what I feel about water. So, I guess we might as well say, water is just water. But being 'just water' is just something else altogether.

My mom loves to say this thing in Hindi, 'paani ke mati ho jao' - 'just be like water'. You mix it with sugar, it doesn't fight back and separate itself, you mix it with colour, with coffee, tea, whatever... It just agrees and gets along... Except with oil. But that's the arrogant oil's own fault. It goes all 'I'm better than you, fool' and tries to float over water. 'I ain't mixing my molecules with you, fool'... I have no idea why oil sounds like a stereotypical African American in my head.

I can't remember exactly when I started swimming. It must've been either at a beach in Dubai or in this really small pool in the Jumbo Electronics building in Bur Dubai. I think I would've have been 4, if not younger. But I just loved the water. As I kept swimming and getting the different strokes right during my teens, swimming, somehow, became a very meditative exercise. Even now, when I do a front crawl my mind only observes my hands as they merge into the water and gently take me forward. I suppose that's a bit of wu wei -- doing without doing. I see people swim and they make a big splash around them and take extremely long to get from one point to the other. I suppose when you have a stronger sense of your existence, the stronger your fear of drowning and dying. And so you fight the water... I know I did till I was about 11 or so. But once you learn to quietly get through water, not against it, water is just... something else.

Back in 2010, I was going through a bit of drama in life. Sometimes when things get rough, your immediate impulse is just to get out. Out of your home, the city, maybe even the country. For me my impulse was just to get away from the city and learn to dive. I had wanted to do it for over 5 years but just felt it was too expensive. But it was time to just dive in and take a break. And there is something amazing about being in the water. It's as William Trubridge, one of the record holding free-divers says, "it kind of forces you to be in the moment. It's almost impossible to be in the water and at the same time contemplating about all your problems. As soon as you get in the water, that all dissolves." Especially if your surroundings are visible under water, life just feels like something else. Be it the way a grouper seems to think that standing still won't make me notice him, a goby fish forms its symbiotic relationship with a random shrimp, or just sitting on the ocean bed, 30 metres deep, watching a school of trevally wander by. It's like that crazy Jamaican crab said, "down here all the fish is happy, as off through the waves they role, the fish on the land ain't happy, they sad cause they in their bowl... We got no troubles, life is the bubbles, under the sea." 

I need to get some bubbles. I have been reading up and watching videos on free diving and am just dying to get some time to try it as well. But, time on land is just a tricky thing. I suppose I just need to get some time off from the land and get some moments under water. And just a few moments will do, because the speed of time under water is just... something else.

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