Of Water, Wombs, and Woods
March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Ever wonder what’s it like to float in the formless wetness of the pre-beginning? To dream formless intuitions and sensations in that slumber before the first waking? To have form but be formless, to exist before actually existing, to be before you are?
In other words, I’ve found a new hobby.
(Hint: It involves a pool.)
I’m attending university in the Northeast currently but I come from LA. Though I use “come from” rather loosely; I am, by no means, a native there. I mean, sure, I was born there (actually up in the mountains; I live by the beach now), but I’ve spent my life in a scattering of different states across the US — only region I haven’t lived in is the Midwest.
But I’m drifting away from my point, which is that I have a pool in LA.
A pool that is in the privacy of my backyard.
(Unlike my college’s pool which sees far too many visitors for comfort, in my opinion.)
I usually don’t swim even when I come back during breaks but my cousin from Japan is visiting, and visitors, whether friends or family, are usually enough of a reason for me to splash around a little.
So yesterday, I don’t remember exactly what I was doing (my cousin was off on the other side doing laps — very athletic, that one) but I just remember letting myself sink below the water surface and staring up into the rosy, watercolored sky through my goggles.
It was surreal, to say the very least. Not only did the fluid glassiness of the water add a certain, peculiar clarity to the view, as if watching through a soft, fabric-like glass, but the little pockets of air that would wiggle and bubble upwards past me made it seem as if the water had Life. I don’t know if I would say the water was ‘alive’ per se; it seemed more like the water had the potential for Life, like it faintly vibrated with pre-Life energy.
And the sensation itself! I said I let myself sink but it was more like, like . . . once I was submerged, I just floated. Yes, I stared up at the sky above me yet I lost all sense of direction. I could sense neither up nor down, left nor right, east, west, the whole lot.
All I could see was that burning, watercolored heaven through the ever-shifting glass fabric of the water.
I floated, free, allowed to just feel.
Have you ever tried to describe the sensation of wet?
Go on, try it. Imagine trying to explain it to someone who was born with a malfunctioning nervous system so they can’t feel anything and have never felt anything since birth.
As for me, I’m not even going to try.
Especially not after yesterday.
As I floated there, I didn’t feel the water. I didn’t feel that sensation of wet that distinguishes it. If anything, it just felt more like heavier, denser air. Air that could support me, my legs, my arms, my head. Air that could carry me as gently as a lover’s embrace.
At that moment, I wondered why water and air are always seen as so different. So separate.
Really, they’re only different forms of pre-Life energy.
I had to come up for air within moments. Too bad humans can’t utilize both forms of pre-Life energy.
Ignoring my cousin still loudly splashing his laps, I tried to recapture that floating, directionless sensation, but I kept bobbing back up to the surface. If I tried to submerge on an exhale, I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to comfortably settle into the feeling.
To say it was frustrating is an understatement.
So I tried a different approach. Instead of trying to submerge on my back, I peeled off my goggles, curled in on myself and wrapped my arms around my knees, and let myself float like that, tentatively breathing out bubbles through my nose until I could feel the water rejoin over my back.
I discovered a new sensation then.
With my eyes closed, it was much faster and easier to lose direction and sense of the world, especially when the water completely enveloped me.
With the release of a few more bubbles, I felt the water close in over me, and let out a small internal shout of victory, thinking at last!
There was this wondrous instant of floating formlessness, where I couldn’t feel the water around me except as a density supporting, where there was nothing in my ears but the pounding beats that confirmed I was alive, where my eyes saw not darkness but whatever my mind chose to flash before them, where I was aware of my form but floated formless in that gently undulating pre-Life energy.
It was an instant, as I said. Then I felt the water rushing past, caressing ever so softly past my body like a lover’s absent-minded fingers. I was confused and panicking just a little but also reveling in this strange experience.
Then I felt the sandpaper-like bottom of the pool.
I understood in a flash. That novel sensation was sinking!
But since I had my eyes closed and lost all sense of direction, depth perception, and even gravity itself, my mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening. It couldn’t tell that I was moving!
Even stranger, despite being able to associate that sensation of the water flowing past, brushing my hair back like a gentle, caring hand, with sinking, I still retained that feeling of not moving, of just floating free in the water’s embrace. Every single time I shut my eyes, tucked my knees in, and released some of the air from my lungs, it felt more like the water was sluicing past, not me sinking.
Depending on how much air I released, sometimes the water drifted past like a lazy stream in the summertime, and sometimes it rushed past like floodwater swollen with melted icecaps.
Also, if I tried this in the deeper end of the pool, I could feel the growing pressure or density, like a warm, soft blanket gradually wrapping a little bit more snugly around me.
It was just simply amazing . . .
Discovering that new way of experiencing sinking was a plus but not really what I was trying to accomplish.
I kept trying to see if I could recapture that happy medium of floating without form or care but I either kept bobbing and breaking the water surface or sinking to the bottom.
I could only get instants, between when I released those last few crucial bubbles and when the water started trailing its fingers along my body, through my hair.
Deciding that instants were better than nothing (plus discovering a new sensation) I eventually climbed out.
The water was growing cold as the watercolors in the sky darkened from rose to lavender.
My pool also has that ‘endless pool’ jet system thing so today, as my cousin swam laps again, I decided to let myself float with the water’s currents.
As the water tugged and pushed and swirled around me, I rolled along and certainly lost my sense of up-down, left-right, but it was different from the placid floating and sinking of the day previous.
It was much more thrilling in that I never knew whether the water will lead me into the pool’s walls or into the path of my cousin’s kicking legs.
(I did get elbowed in the head once. And I smashed into the walls a couple of times.)
There was something frightening yet exciting about letting myself go like that. Trusting myself to the flow of the water.
(I didn’t completely let myself go though; the thrill would overcome me and I’d come up more often not for air but to check my position. I would also ever so slightly slit my eyes open underwater. Not the best or smartest thing to do when wearing contacts and no goggles.)
I sometimes wonder if I should let myself go like that with life. Trust myself to the wanderings my feet will take me through those woods of uncertainty that stretch on and on before me.
I’m trying to control my life too much, trying to follow or build a path that either I can’t see or doesn’t exist, and it’s stressing me out. I know that’s the major, if not primary, source of my stress and doubt and fear and all that shitty negative energy.
All I want to do is let my life go, relinquish that control, and let my life do what it please.
But I’m too scared to do it — just like I was too scared, too hesitant to completely lose myself to the water.
I don’t know how to live, how to survive, without that control, but I want nothing more than to throw the whole damn thing over the edge of the universe.
What a paradox: I can’t survive without control but I can’t live with it.