Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Perhaps you know the feeling. Hopefully not.

You are swimming. Or diving. Going deeper and deeper between coming up for air. Spending longer and longer time under the water each time. And then, when you're returning to the surface from one of those strokes, or dives, you all of a sudden find that the water is taller than you thought.

Instantly, you enter fight-or-flee mode. Your pulse quickens, you feel a burning sensation in your lungs, as you kick extra-hard to get to the surface. Time slows to a crawl, and you start seeing things in slow-motion. As your vision gets that red tint, and your ears start to ring, you could swear that you can taste blood in your mouth. As you push yourself desperately those last few feet onto the top of the water mass, you are equally amazed at how much further up it turned out to be as you are of the fact that you were able to get there. That you actually had the reserve energy. That you lived. And for that briefest of moments, you are totally alive. You live in that blink of an eye.

I have had my share of this happening in real-life. Those encounters leave you with memories, sometimes nightmares, but also profound gratitute, plus some valuable life lessons. Such as "Darwin is out to get you".

But while those physical ones are manageable, if challenging, they pale in comparison with what happens when life becomes the water. Now, let me be clear. It isn't that living life becomes a burden to me. It never does. Perhaps I had a touch of that when I was a teenager, but the never got to being even a mild depression. So that's not it. Besides, what are teenage years without a few crisis?

No, I never question life or the value of living it. They will have to "pry it from my cold, dead fingers", so to speak. But while living it, I will encounter facts that I can find immesurably hard to bear. At first, I will just flat out deny them. That buys me a few months. Or years. But then, eventually, they will come back to me. And the horror of them start to sink in. The cold, hard "truth" of the matter. I may have my fine life, career, family, friends, everything. But that just is not enough. I still have this fundamental need. I just know that there is this thing that is not right. I feel a monumental need to right that wrong. But I don't know how to do that. And from time to time I start to think that I just can't. That I never will.

And that's when I go under.

Apparently, drowning does turn from being this frightening elongated moment of terror, into a rather pleasant state of calm and relaxation, once you succumb to it. Maybe that is Nature's way of saying "Hey, you tried your utmost to keep yourself alive, but since it is obvious that you can't, then there is no point in turning your last moments into a misery." In some ways, I wish I could just let this go. Just drop calmly into my assigned role of a husband, a father, an employer, an employee, a consumer, whatever. It is as if I can hear somebody saying "Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating."

But it is not possible. You simply can't go and drown yourself. And neither can I just decide to let go. If you feel something deeply, then you do. It is as simple as that. Even if you still have no idea what to do about it. So you are left with enduring. And fighting that wall of water every time you have to. Maybe that is the whole point of it all. Who knows?

"Return, I will. To old Brazil."