A Travellerspoint blog

Lucky

I feel lucky. For once it has nothing to do with comparing myself to the 7 billion other people on the planet and counting my privileges, and everything to do with the fact of being physically alive. It occurs to me that simply getting through life is a constant reaffirmation that things usually turn out, as we live through one scrape after another. The first time we don't we are dead, and then it doesn't much matter what we think after that.

Respect the ocean. Could we really have been fish once? If so my body has no primordial remembrance of this. In the water I am fearful, constantly on the cusp of panic. Out in the sea cries of help get strangled by distance, by the salt water that rushes to fill the space in my mouth that beautiful, life-giving air has just vacated. When someone says that they have seen currents so strong that swimming sting rays have gone backwards, I laugh a little but receive the message: Respect the ocean.

And yet I, an inept swimmer, dared to go out too far. And there I was, swimming hard with growing fatigue and panic but still going backwards, and the beach so distant and slipping away fast. I could scarcely believe I'd gotten myself in this spot, I who had so much respect for the ocean. Wasn't this a lesson I'd already learned?

Back on land finally, grateful and incredulous, I discovered my body was trembling. With weariness, or a sort of mute anger at being defied and used? It knew better, but I didn't. I had wanted an afternoon snorkel to our usual rock. I was going to show Chris the back side this time, the mottled sea cucumbers that drifted upright like grotesque giraffe necks. We never got there.

In the end it was Jason's words that came back to me as I felt my muscles giving out. Something about just knowing you could do it. I didn't exactly experience the sense of peace or security that he felt after the realization--maybe because I knew there was a good chance I could not do it; in fact, I was failing fairly rapidly--but it was enough to battle the panic, just barely enough.

I guess in the end my body shouldered the burden. It wanted to live.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Thailand

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Last week a friend asked me how I could react so lightheartedly to my father's death. And said friend followed up by saying that being dead is "special." And I said that no, actually, being dead is the normal state of things, and being alive is the special thing. Which is a trite truism and is like Intro to Pop Buddhism 101, but anyway, I felt clever for coming up with this comment while downing iced coffee in a smoky cafe and trying to fix my friend's Windows.

by ducks

Tourists and inland dwellers -- smug Floridian / islander mode enabled here -- think the ocean is their pet. People who know the ocean well know that it's a killer. My mom taught me this when I was very little, that the ocean (well, the Black Sea in that particular object lesson) is a killer.

by ducks

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