|The view under the surface in the Bahamas|
I love to go to the beach for vacations - preferably warm, tropical waters. The biggest reason is that I love to snorkel.
Those who witness my snorkeling may chortle under their breath. I must be a sight. With my extremely fair skin, I'm not a bikini-clad, tanned vision in the water. I'm more of a cover-most-of-the-body with a suit, zinc oxide on my nose sort of snorkeler.
But once I slip into the water, I don't care what people on the boat think. Once in the water, the only sound is of my breathing through the snorkel tube. In the water, it's just me and the fish and coral. Once in the water, I'm floating on top of a world of color, drama and mystery. In the water, I'm witnessing a part of the deep beneath.
You can't sit on shore, staring at the glassy surface, and hope to know the universe beneath. You have to get into the water to experience it. You must go into the water to witness the deep beneath.
My husband of 24 years is not a snorkeler. He admits that, besides the fact that he's not a strong swimmer, he's afraid of being in the water. Fear of what's below. Fear of the deep beneath.
|A lovely view, but no hint of what lies beneath|
But he gamely accompanies me on my snorkeling adventures, suffering through motion sickness, popping the Dramamine. He stays in the boat while I explore. He's happy on the surface, thank you very much, and has no desire to explore the deep beneath. No desire to face this fear.
This year, while in the warm Bahamian waters around Nassau, my nine-year-old daughter decided that she would snorkel too. "I want to go with you mama," she said. She donned the mask and flippers and slipped right into the cool water.
At first, she was afraid. She held my hand tightly as we flippered ourselves away from the boat and out into the open water.
But then her grip loosened. I turned to look at her. I was rewarded with seeing the biggest smile I think I've ever seen on a person. Her eyes were wide and sparkling with wonder. She pulled her vision away from the purple and pink corals long enough to look into my eyes and give me a thumbs up.
We held hands and happily swam together that day, enjoying a moment of wonder. It was the single happiest hour of my life.
You see, it's not only that I got to show my daughter the wonders of at least one, small tiny piece of ocean. And it's not just that we experienced it together. No, my real joy was in the fact that she chose to explore the deep beneath rather than sit in the boat, viewing only the surface. Despite her fear, she jumped in anyway.
I've spent much of my life avoiding the deep beneath of things - avoiding because of fear.
But the more I explore the mysteries, the more free I feel. Free to try new things. Free, also, to say no to something that truly doesn't interest me. Free to know the difference between "not interested" and "no, because I'm afraid."
Writing fiction is an exploration of the deep beneath (if a writer allows it, that is). It's an excavation of the inner deep. A search for the truth within. When entering that place, one must not cave into fear. It takes a certain amount of courage to see the "truth" of the inner house.
Right now I'm working on Book 2 of the Akasha Chronicles. It will be titled "Emily's Trial." In it, Emily and her friends must face their fears head on when they go to a world where fears and nightmares become real.
I've got the draft written and feel okay with what has happened on the page so far. But I'm not satisfied. Perhaps I've stayed on the surface with it? Maybe I held back from going there - going to the deep beneath of fear.
As I thought about snorkeling and my nine-year-old daughter facing her fear, it inspired me. If she can jump, maybe I can too.
It takes courage to explore the deep beneath.
Will you stay on the shore? Or will you jump into the black waters?