To Snorkel or not to Snorkel: the power of being present

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I am fascinated by the ocean. AND it freaks me out a little bit. Watching the waves and listening to the sound of them crashing on the shore is so relaxing, but when you’re in the water, the unpredictability can be quite unnerving!

My husband, Dave, is a fish.  He grew up in Southern California and spent most of his free time (and even some of his shouldn’t-be-free time) at the beach. He’s a surfer/snorkeler/scuba diver at heart. I, on the other hand, didn’t even see a beach until after Dave and I were married,  so the whole idea of “catching a wave” was foreign to me. I’m a good swimmer, yet in the ocean I feel a little aquaphobic.  The water never holds still—it pushes you around and splashes in your face when you least expect it.

That’s why I’m always surprised at how much I enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling.

Life under the sea is breathtaking! There are so many brilliant colors, so many creative forms of life! Unlike the waviness of ocean surface, everything under the water feels so calm and peaceful. It’s a whole new world.

Still, every time we take a trip to the beach, I have to ask myself this serious question: “Do I really want to go Snorkeling?”  It’s Dave’s favorite thing, and it makes him happy when I go with him. For this reason, I usually make the decision to go—at least once. Seriously, though, I have a mini anxiety attack every time.

First, I have to acclimate to the water temperature—it’s always cold after laying in the hot sun (my favorite beach activity.) Next comes trying to keep my balance in the waves as I slip the clumsy fins on my feet. I always try to do it by myself, but indefinitely, Dave ends up lending a shoulder of support after he’s all geared up and anxious to go. Then, there’s the snorkel and mask…I once learned how to masterfully adjust and clear my mask during scuba certification class, but that was 20 years ago. I always just end up knowing my mask will be slightly foggy, and there will almost always be a small pool of water to keep my eyes feeling salty.

After what seems like forever, I am finally ready to swim out to where the fish are. The waves splash all around me. My eyes haven’t quiet adjusted to be able to see clearly, and I try not to feel claustrophobic from wondering if the murky water will find its way into my snorkel. But then, just as I have talked myself into turning back, something quick and colorful catches my attention . Suddenly my focus turns from all the scary discomfort, and I become entranced by the magic. The chaos and anxiety disappear, and I fall in love with everything I see.

It reminds me of life sometimes. With so much chaos, so many demands, so many places to go and people to see, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by life. However, when I am able to focus on each moment and notice the beautiful magic that is happening all around me, the anxiety goes away and I am mesmerized by my life.

Being present isn’t always easy, yet every time I let myself take a breath and enjoy right now, I am glad I did  


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