A Rock and a Dive

SAM_08301.jpg There’s a spot about 20 minutes paddle from shore, where the Sound pushes into and out-of the natural harbor between two islands. Depending on the tide, we sometimes get buffeted in a crash of waves. Pulling our paddles in, we gleefully surrender to the splashing. If the tide is low, we yank the boat across the crunch of shell and stones to the other side. We like to pause here and stare alternately at the horizon and into the surf. Sometimes we pick up treasures. On Sunday, this rock caught my eye.

photo-43 Doesn’t it look like it’s part of something much bigger, like a chunk of a cliff or something? I reached down and lifted it away from the round stones surrounding it and said to R, “I wonder if anyone has ever touched this before – and will anyone again?” I held it a moment longer, thinking about time and wondering how it ended up where the waves meet, then let it go torpedoing in slow motion down to the bottom. I waded on, thinking I might swim.

I’m not a big swimmer. Last summer I barely got wet. But the place and moment seemed magical, the water crystal-clear, inviting. Wading up to my torso, I flinched as the water lapped against my belly – so cold. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back to the sky enjoying the warmth of the sun cooled by a breeze. I didn’t really want to get wet – this felt too good. But I imagined myself floating-in rather than just looking at the water and the part of my body already submerged, felt invigorated. I opened my eyes. Looking at the surface of the water, I willed myself to dive in – and didn’t.

Why? I wondered at my reluctance. Why not duck in for a swim? Because I felt comfortable and warm and safe, my hair was dry and I didn’t have a towel. I hesitated because I knew I’d be shocked by the cold. Even though my discomfort would quickly pass into pleasure, I did not move.

Have I become a hobbled by comfort? I wasn’t always this way – I have lived on the edge — traveled alone, moving to other countries, a war zone, marrying an addict. Okay, I didn’t really know I was doing that last one. And perhaps that’s what happened. Maybe I lost trust in my judgement about risk, became hyper-aware of the repercussions of launching willy-nilly into adventures. Perhaps the years of hanging onto the roller coaster of my life took its toll, making me staid. Or is this just an expected symptom of getting older like grey hair and wrinkles? I know, I should, I want to – resist.

My mental chatter grew noisier than the churning of water until I stepped deeper and, feeling like I was being gently pushed, dove beneath the surface. A frozen blanket of silence enveloped me as I pushed myself through the current, finally coming up for air with a gasp. Laying back into the gentle waves, I floated.

The next morning, the stone was atop my computer. R had retrieved it from where I’d dropped it back into the sea. There it was, a reminder of time, of going beneath the surface and something bigger than itself.

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4 Responses to A Rock and a Dive

  1. Lea Sylvestro says:

    I know this piece was about far more than that rock, but yay for R!!! I couldn’t believe you dropped that beautiful treasure back in the water. But, I wonder the same things….I like to be comfortable and that can result in too many knee-jerk no’s. Lovely piece. XO

  2. This is wonderful. I love the picture and how you brought me with you into the surf. I also hear you on your musing about adventure and staying with comfort and then diving in. So, so fine. And then R giving you your rock after you’d let it go, which resonates and makes it more than a rock but something about letting go and beloved man giving it back.

    It makes me think of my adventures with my horses, especially right now, Morgen who I was going to sell and Bruce wouldn’t let me and now I have this amazing creature who will drive down the road.

    And I think about a rock I picked up in the Adirondacks, that I still have, that’s a beautiful green feldspar, and the rock takes me back to that day and wonder of how very old those mountains were and it was a day when the trees were just budding, there in Keene Valley.

  3. I find I can count on your blog to get me thinking about something worth really thinking about, and more importantly, your writing resonates in a way that banishes the little indignities of everyday life — thanks for this beautiful piece of salve for the soul.

  4. Tricia says:

    What a great comment, Elissa. I guess I’ll keep writing! x

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