Day 96: 9/29/13: Between Breaths

Back to the pool today to review some safety procedures after last week’s debacle at sea.

Thoughts I had while trying to achieve neutral buoyancy at the bottom:

1. Tried to remember the name of the guru who said, “My religion is breath.”

2. Yoko and John’s fabled first encounter at the Indica Gallery in 1966: She handed him a card that said “Breathe.”

3. What my brother told me about coming home from a recent road trip to Vermont with a bushel of sweet “wild apples.” The beauty of those two words together healed something in me.

4. How the peace one feels underwater is a kind of addictive silence, like the silence of meditation. So many kinds of silences, far more than there are kinds of apples.

5. What a strange honor it is to be with someone while they take their last breath, their last taste of the world.

6. My father and I used to race our horses through an apple orchard. The horses had white apple foam on their lips. At a certain point, I crossed some invisible, unspoken line and he stopped letting me win each race.

7. The fundamental law of diving and of life: don’t hold your breath.

8. The curved forms of the free divers that swim with sharks. They know how to move so as not to appear threatening. Their bodies are lithe, beautiful. They are seeking, it seems to me, some impossible form of communion.

9. Manannan mac Lir is an Irish sea deity. He is a clown, a beggar, and a psychopomp who guides souls to the underworld.  He’s associated with the Isles of Apple Trees in the next world.  In a painting I saw once Manannan mac Lir took the form of a breaking wave of horses. I remember the fury of the foam.

10.  My dive teacher takes the regulator out of his mouth. He lies on the bottom of the pool and blows these crazy rings of air to the surface–huge and perfect. They shiver and break apart. I immediately think of my father smoking cigars while he watched 60 Minutes–the hazy rings, not weird and futuristic silver water rings, but earthly like the rings of a tree. What good does it do to remember so much? My teacher gives me the signal: Are you ready to ascend? I have almost forgotten where I am. I nod. Yes. I am ready. I look to the surface.  I breathe.

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