After several days of doing things–snorkeling, visiting the botanic gardens, learning scuba and going on my first dive–today we simply did nothing. Well, almost nothing. In fairly typical Kovatch style, since we can’t ever seem to leave well-enough alone, Dad also rented the Hobie Cat and we went sailing on the little catamaran at the end of the day. For most of the day, however, I simply sat and read, alternating between sun and shade and shoulder-high dunks in the Caribbean Sea, interspersed with chatting with Andy (obviously hanging out with my parents is more fun than it ever was but it’s nice to break up conversation with the same two people every now and then.)
Sitting by the beach in the east breeze with the crystalclearturquoise water lapping gently onto the shore is a pleasure I’m not accustomed to enjoying–truly, any leisure time I have is usually structured by cleaning my house, working in the garden, riding my horses. These are all things I enjoy, but I don’t take the time to simply sit and relax and think and reflect and contemplate. There is a surprising amount of action to watch when my book grows dull or the sights grow distracting–dive boats coming and going, waverunners zipping about on the bay, snorkel safaris coming and going, a steady stream of red-shirted dive guides who all stop by and say a few words in greeting thanks to my father whose personality has made us famous (see what happens when you’re actually nice to people? They love us and keep telling each other to take good care of Joe and his family. All those years I spent being embarrassed by my father, I actually should have been proud.) Clouds slide slowly across the sky mirrored by the fishing boats on the outer reef. I drank a mudslide for lunch. Life is rough.
But after an adventure-filled few days, I needed a day or two to simply sit and reflect. I don’t remember ever being truly afraid of the water (though all those failed swim lessons do stick out in my mind–I think they were during my “deathly shy” phase) but I’ve pushed my own boundaries further than ever this week. Left up to my own devices I would have been quite happy paddling around in the shallows, riding the dive boat and feeling the wind in my hair and the spray on my face, maybe renting a kayak. Now I can say that I’ve snorkeled with the fish (including a four-foot barracuda and some stingrays) and dove beneath the crystal waves to the bottom (a shallow bottom, but the bottom nonetheless.) I’m certainly not setting the world on fire with my new aqua-skills but I’ve opened up new worlds for myself if I ever care to visit them again.
We finished the day with Dad sailing the catamaran, me simply sitting on the prow of one hull, just watching waves break on the reef, the palms on the shore wave in the wind, the ceaseless patterns of silvergoldsunlight on the unbelievably turquoise water. There’s no way to describe the clear greenblue water in ways that are not contrite and stereotypical–but everything they say is true. I could see all the way to the bottom.
Two quotes have come to mind today, partially inspired by Jamie, partially by my own reflection–all from Into the Wild.
“Happiness only real when shared.”
“The sea’s only gifts are harsh blows, and occasionally the chance to feel strong. Now, I don’t know much about the sea, but I know that’s the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing the blind deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”
Diving certainly meant more to Dad when he could share it with me. And I was not the strongest at anything I’ve done so far, but it’s made me feel strong. Ultimately that’s all that matters, the strength I’ve found here to carry with me, the reassurance that no matter where life takes me I can ride it out, roll with it, as lightly and smoothly as my body beneath the water.