Today I started refining the central idea of this shark project.
I also studied my diving manual.
As I memorized facts about water pressure, I realized that my fear of encountering sharks in the water had been eclipsed by a terror of my lungs collapsing like a pair of dispirited accordions as fountains of shiny blood burst from my ears.
Then I realized the whole book I am writing is about fear. Beyond the fear of sharks, beyond drowning, beyond fear of my lack of athleticism or lung capacity, is the fear I feel that this book won’t sell or that while I am still grieving my father’s death, my mother, who is in frail health, will die and leave me incapacitated with grief, unable to continue.
When descending into the depths, the diver learns techniques to “equalize” the pressure of the sea, to survive in an alien place. It’s a powerful metaphor for our own daily descents, our singular journeys into the unknown. I thought of these lines from Adrienne Rich’s famous poem “Diving into the Wreck”:
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone to turn my body without force
in the deep element.