I am not going to drown any time soon, but I’m far from a natural in the water. Growing up I didn’t like to swim because I was embarrassed with the way I looked, so I always wore a shirt and didn’t want to do lessons and… well, you get the idea. I have become more comfortable in the water, but far from expert. In fact, given the “if it excites you and scares the crap out of you” mantra we like to use, I should probably sign up for a triathlon at some point to force myself into a water race. Hmmm. Maybe someday…
Recently, I had the opportunity to do some snorkeling. My last time out (twenty years ago), it wasn’t the best experience. A little choppy that day, and I drank a bunch of salt water down the snorkel… This trip was so much better! My big takeaway was just how much we miss of what is around us.
If you’ve tried SCUBA or snorkel, you know what I’m talking about. If not, just imagine looking down on a whole world of life – plants, fish, turtles, the coral – all going about their business, only affected by the waves. Meanwhile, the only thing you can hear is your own breathing.
Now, I like to think of myself as a calm, steady Eddie kind of guy. Yes, I will snap off and get mad or excited once in a while, but I get back to middle ground pretty quickly and try to roll with life’s punches. I thought I was chill and enjoying myself that day – until my panting into the mask was the only thing filling my ears.
I spent a couple minutes that first day in the water just breathing. Hearing the change let me relax and focus on the little things. On the advice of a fellow snorkeler I held my breath completely a couple times – and could hear the humpback whale song through the water. Just… just wow. After that, each time I got back in the water, I got myself clear of the shore and other people, and listened to the whale song. It became a little easier; I found my peace more quickly and took in the beauty around me.
What Does It All Mean, Basil?
I’m guessing you know where the moral lies here, but just in case, I’ll hit you over the head with it: we do this to ourselves all the time. We get so caught up in LIFE that we lose sight of the little details that make this all so cool. This world is stressful normally, and right now there’s a ton of bonus crap going on. Health, jobs, schedules changing – everything is hanging in the balance, with reactions and overreactions on all sides.
What can we do? We focus on the things we CAN control. I couldn’t control the other stuff – but I could my breathing. Bringing myself back in line brought the rest into focus. No longer frantic, I took a long slow look and really absorbed my surroundings. I came out of the water relaxed and smiling.
Here’s the thing: even if something is meant to be, that doesn’t mean it is meant to be easy. Stressors keep coming at us. Each day it seems like something new. It will get better. Keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.