Progress

“Because I am making progress.”
            — the cellist, Pablo Casals, when asked why he continued to practice into his nineties

Like many people, I think about water a lot. We like to look at it, to stay alive because of it, to be afraid of it, and we like to jump into it. Growing up on an island, the ocean’s restraints taught me that if I kept walking in circles, I’d eventually get to where I was going. Water was right about that. Sometimes a group of us’d be looking for a party and end up at a completely different party; I guess the “wrong” one because we weren’t technically invited, but that’s where we ended up. And who’s to say we should wait to be invited to any party? Happy accidents meant we were walking in spirals, not circles. We were getting somewhere.

A few days ago, perched on the edge of a pool and snapping goofy-as-shit goggles over my eyes, the competitive swimmer in the next lane told me it bored him to just swim laps back and forth the way I do. He said he needed a goal – winning, not losing – and he needed competitors to push him toward that goal. “Today, I’ll try to beat my best time,” the guy said. “That’ll be my win.” He kinda made me feel like a loser just talking about it, but when we jumped into the water and he raced past me, splashing like a drowning man, I didn’t feel like I was losing, really.

In the ocean, choppiness is at the surface and so is flatness sometimes. Underneath that, when you dive down? I haven’t found the dark, quiet peace that more enlightened people speak of. As far as I can tell, that’s where it’s all happening. That’s where life is. When a person is choppy on the surface or flat, dive down: that’s where they really come to life, always. In muted color and slippery fish.

50FootWave has a song called “Diving” that I never really understood before: crawl into the bedroom/the filler hours taste like flowers/come clean. Landlocked love as water. Dive under the covers, under the days. That’s where life is.

Watching my swimmer friend torpedo past, racing to a finish, I wondered how it could be a “win” to leave the water sooner. I love it there.

Posted in: words, writing on January 24, 2015