Enveloped in the cerulean blue I thought was only possible on a tropical island. Seeing the wrinkled sand below me that seems close enough to touch with my fingers, but actually far from my toes when I stop and stretch for the bottom. The rocks, and branches, and golf balls cluttering the bottom in various stages of being pulled into the sweeping silt. The gurgle of my breath bubbles and the sound of my own heartbeat the only thing interrupting the deafening silence.
Why is this my favorite thing? Not just of summer. Why is this my favorite thing ever? There is nothing else like it.
The world is filled with challenges. I see them. I fashion myself around them so that I can conquer them. But this. This isn’t isn’t about conquering. It’s much too big. It’s much too foreign. People weren’t meant to live in the water, they were meant to be on land. Any challenge on the land is just another facet of who we are built to be. One more way of dominating the world around us. This is completely different. I go there. I go to a place that exists regardless of whether any human touches it. To be there is to be in another world. A world where I am not in control. I am not conquering. I am not dominating. I am not even coexisting. I am humbled. I am beholden to it. I am thankful that it allows me to be there and does not eat me up or tear me apart. Every day that I am able to partake of it is a day that I must give respect to it, not the other way around.
I am aware of her mystery but I don’t need to figure her out. I see only what’s at the surface of a tiny point in her entire being. Whatever is “out there” or “under there” has no allure. She just is how she is with more depth and history and secrets than I could ever fathom. There is no way to know it all. And I don’t need to know it all. I only need to know what she shares with me in this time and place.
She has so many faces. For three years I have seen them all. At her worst she is frigid, angry, dirty, murky, restless, punishing. Most of the time she is colder than you want with the kind of waves that hit you in the face every once in a while when you turn to breathe to remind you are in a living body, not the sterility of a swimming pool. Then there are the days she is perfectly still, crystal clear, and a delightfully refreshing 70-something degrees. A thing so rare that when it comes, you do whatever you can to be in her presence as often and as fully as possible. It is transformational. And you go, day after day like a junkie hoping that she’ll be be perfect again today wanting desperately to hit that same high. The hopes of her being the thing she was that one time she was perfect keeps you going back, but what she actually gives you in all her difficulty and imperfection is what feeds your day to day.
Then one day you realize you love her, not because of the times she’s perfect, but because she’s imperfect. Because she’s temperamental. And unpredictable. And not the thing you make her to be, but just the thing she is. She is not broken. Most people just can’t figure her out. To see her for what she is to to see that she embodies the greatest beauty. Nature’s harmony. Moments of grace. The reassurance that things are how they are because they are meant to be this way. And you realize that without knowing, you’ve learned a lesson about accepting things as they are when you are powerless to change it. And then you stop wanting to change it. Despite her imperfections every meeting justifies the love and devotion you feel for her. Such confidence in the smallness of your own humanity in the spectrum of this infinite world. Such a reminder of the goodness in simplicity. Such power to change the worries of the day to calm and perspective.
She reminds me that even in our wrath and our difficulty and in the misconceptions about what we are or what we should be, someone, if only ourself, sees through it and knows the perfection of our imperfection. And waits for that magical once in a lifetime day, where things are perfect before they immediately go back to imperfect, but the thought of perfect gives way to the reality of imperfect. And it’s enough. More than enough. It is beautiful.