Breathing Underwater

Hope in 300 Words

Here I am, suspended in the warm waters of a well-lit lagoon, floating.  I’m slowly gliding forward over a sandy barnacled floor, arms stretched out welcoming, balancing…

As in a dream, I realize I’m overdressed. My diving suit could protect me in deep water, but here I am in temperate, wavy water light, peering at a large fish and smaller one progressing over my head. Two jellies shuffle as if to step aside.  If I were in the deep sea, it would be dark and terrifying. This suit seems more like lifelong self-protection, like a vintage outfit from the closet of my reptilian brain.  

While I’m chagrined to appear in what looks like a space suit, I am glad for the oxygen and the view out my helmet!

Sounds are slow and rich. My tank bubbles, my breath echoes a rhythmic sway of kelp, and an iPod in my helmet plays a cello tune that amplifies the calm of this weightless world.  I have always feared deep ocean, had night terrors of sharks in swimming pools, dreaded drowning, or being lost in the sea.  This is new.  

“Why am I here?” I wonder.  Why am I still here, could be my more honest question.

With each pulse of water after I move my arms and feet, with every fresh view of the lagoon, my breath lights up my mind and my body feels freer. 

How long was I curled up in bad dreams, in the concrete and chlorine of neighborhood swimming pools, and how many times had I flailed in surf panicked when I inhaled salt water?  My decades were the cold, dark dive of a mind on survival. 

In this lagoon, it turns out that life is a warmer, more interesting place than I believed. What lovely, if strange, inner world am I now ready to explore?

Life, my very life, is good.

Published by River Brown

Grant Writer with the San José Area Writing Project, B.A. Serigraphy, San José State University, M.A. Ed, Teaching & Learning, National Hispanic University, San Jose, Ca, Retired Intervention Specialist.

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