Saturday, December 27, 2008

Into a Parallel Universe (Fred Reed)

Fred Reed explores the wonders of the sea to get away from it all:

The world is indeed too much with us, late and soon. We have too many contracts and iPods and too little time or calm for looking about. One readily forgets this amid blatting buses and blowing exhaust and sprinting for the subway, amid bills and commercials and forms to fill. Yet still there are things other than elections and recessions, maybe things even more important, certainly things that have been around longer than we have or will be.

Some years back I was on a scuba trip to the Caribbean with Capital Divers, my then dive club out of Washington. I forget just where we were. We made these trips annually for several years and they blur together. The club usually chartered one of those 125-foot or so specialized dive boats and spent most of our time underwater. Dive, burgers, beer, sleep, dive. Bright sun, blue water, explosion of bubbles as you stepped off the dive deck and finned at ten feet to the anchor line. Cool water leaking into wetsuits and running down your spine. More bursts of bubbles with a diver magically materializing from within.

One day we swam along a deep wall at 120 feet, maybe fifteen of us, the sea dropping below us to blue-black night and the wall colorless in the crepuscular dimness of depth. It was deeper than a basic instructor would recommend, but Cap Divers was a bit of a cowboy outfit, and everyone was experienced. Curling misshapen growths of deep water projected from the rock like tangled ropes and distorted cups in some nightmarish basement. The only sounds were the slow ssssssss-wubbawubba of breath and exhaust and the locationless clicking of arthropods.

A curious relaxation comes over you at such times, a sense of not mattering at all to the sea, of the world as an older and bigger place than Washington or even New York, of detachment from fizzing little wars of columnists and from pols and polls. Call it a salubrious triviality. If I could bottle the feeling, drug markets would wither overnight.

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