About a month ago I was sitting in a little windowless office at school chatting with my friend and fellow adjunct, Emily.
I was blabbing to her about the end of this blog. How this year I’ve written about all kinds of things outside of sharks, I’ve written about my mother’s life fading and grieving the loss of my father. And even the activism—the petitions signed, the protests and teaching, the Jaws Benefit, all of it seems a bulwark against vanishing. Soon, and finally, I’ll be going on this trip to see the sharks in South Africa.
“I have to see how it all fits together,” I told Emily, “to make a book out of it.”
“Well, going down in the cage is your confrontation with death,” she said.
I know she didn’t just mean I was off on some “extreme” adventure, some chance to stick my head in the maw of oblivion, but my confrontation with all of it.
I knew this. It seemed both revelatory and obvious. I must have said or written or voiced it before. But why when I heard Emily say it did I feel a weird hush inside me—the kind of sea silence I imagine myself descending into?
P.S. I stole this title from a fantastic poem about the Vietnam Veterans Wall by Yusef Komunyakaa.