The first time you go to the beach, you dip your toes at the very edge of the waves and run away screaming and giggling the moment the water level rises above your ankles. You’re happy sitting on the soft sand and gazing out at the vast expanse containing heaven knows what. And you’re fine not knowing.
I was no different.
I spent my time building sand castles I knew were of little value, but it gave me joy, thereby giving others around me joy. I looked from afar as the waves crashed on the shore and took great pride in the fact that I was able to be there. Occasionally frolicking and splashing around, but never enough to get wet.
But of course, the more you go, the more intrigued you are by this beautiful work of nature, yet not explored completely. And every time, you push yourself to go a little deeper. To immerse yourself in this world.
I am no different.
I have already been as deep as I could go with my feet steady on the ocean floor. I have seen a lot of things. At one point I thought that is how far one could get, that I knew everything there was to know. And I happily went all over the place telling people how I knew all about the ocean. And then one day, I saw a group of divers, go further than my vision allowed me to see. “Eh, what more could they see than I already have, it’s the ocean, it looks the same all over from above, it has to be the same underneath,” I thought as I looked for more shells to keep.
But when they were back, they came with stories, they saw things no one else had, lived moments one couldn’t imagine, learned more about life than any book could teach, and made memories they’d never forget. They came with stories good and bad, but so intricate, so lively, so interesting.
That’s when I realized that there is a world beyond, that I might not even know exists. And it’s right in front of me. One plunge away. I stand a lot of risks, getting lost, drowning, maybe not even liking it. And I know, that no matter how deep I go, how long I stay, how well I may unite with that world, I will have to surface, I will have to return, my time will come and I can stay no longer.
But there was only one way to know if it was even real, and that was to just go.
I have seen all there is to see right up till where I am. I have to go. I don’t know how the experience will be, but I know the end result has to be good. Win some or learn some, as they say.
So I gather everything, the equipment, the support, the courage and mostly an open mind to believe, an extraordinary world or an eerily ordinary one. I say my goodbyes, I know it’s going to be a while, and as sure as I am that I will return, I’m not sure I’ll be the same person when I do.
However, I do make sure I have someone ashore, to help me dive into the waters, to anchor me when I drift away, to pull me back when I go too far, and to remind me why I jumped in the first place. They don’t have to come with me though, this is my journey, and they will have their own to take.
And then, I wait. I wait for the right moment to rush into the waters. Not when the tides are too high so they overwhelm me, nor when they are too low so I end up back where I was. I wait for it to settle, for the ocean to be kind, yet vivacious. And I take my leap.
The world inside is going to be dark yet full of colours. It’s going to be different from what I am used to, I hope I get used to it. I may find beauty and terror, better than I ever dreamed, just what I hoped for, worse than I expected, everything. And I hope I find it all. But I hope the good is enough to push me through the bad. I hope I have the grace to accept and the power to alter.
The way I choose is the way I need to take. It’ll be scary to have no guide, no definitive path, not even a destination. But I’ll know wherever I end up, will be a result of the turns I took, and sometimes some that circumstances led me to take. I will not stop swimming, but I will make sure I pause and absorb every single moment, because I don’t think I will be lucky enough to find my way back to every spot, I’m not sure I will want to go back to them all.
I will leave behind a lot, maybe even forget. But some things, some shells, some fish, some reef, some god damn mermaids will come with me, stay with me, drop me to the shore, stay in my drawer, stay in my head, stay in my life.
I will leave my mark too, leave ripples that only I can, create my own masterpiece, my own memory, my own fragment. One that everyone that was there then cherishes, everyone that passes by relishes, and everyone yet to come hopes to see.
Sometimes I will suffocate craving solid ground again, sometimes I will not want to surface, but I cannot stop, I cannot leave half way, I cannot stay forever. And when I make it out, the world will be different, and so will the water. I can always return, make another home, another part of me. I don’t know if I will be ready for the outside, heck I don’t even know if I am ready for the plunge. But I know this. I will be confident. I will be unstoppable. I will be observant, yet contributing. And most importantly, I will be me.
I do not know how this will go. Not a clue.
But right now I just wait, for time and tide to be on my side.
They say change is always good, exploration makes you better, never regret.
I hope I will be no different.
© 2016 Drishti Soni All Rights Reserved
For the sake of context, I wrote this piece to convey how I felt before/about entering college, without actually mentioning it at all. So the metaphor may seem a little biased to the theme. However, it can apply to a lot of things and feel free to read it your way!