ne time I went surfing in Santa Cruz.
I paddled out past the wake and sat on my board, admiring the vast nothingness that held an underwater world of everything. The tear in my wetsuit kept a steady pulse of frigid liquid against my abdomen. I felt vulnerable, I felt alive.
My humanness was reflected in my weakness. If a white cap were to graze me from the wrong angle, I would be subject to the law of tide tables and rip currents.
My father used to tell me to never turn my back against the waves, for they would not show me the same mercy a fellow passenger would. Waves are relentless, so I would have no choice but to let them sweep me toward the shore.
On the last ride of the day, a stray board lodged itself into my chin as I rose above the froth. I let my body drop beneath the water, and resolved to allow any futile effort to float fail. I was powerless, bowing to the whim of whatever stream would carry me to consciousness. At some point, a cord gripped my neck, hugging it tightly and refusing to let go.
I woke up hearing the hollow chords of crashing waves on the beach. My body lifelessly submerged and subsequently uncovered by a thin veil of water. My board strewn meters down the beach.
My mouth tasted of hot iron, and my eyes weak with salt.
An unwilling entanglement of golden shears and the strings of my heart that they lightly tickled.
I sat on that beach for nearly an hour after I had washed up on shore. Watching the methodical rhythm of ocean calmly collide with a million grains of matter. They seemed to survive every single time.
But that day, I almost died.
I never entered the surf again, but craved a sick sense of adrenaline every day since.
A few summers later, I boarded a dive boat off the coast of Kona. The sun was gradually swallowed by the tropic swell and all sides of the vessel were surrounded by ominous ink.
I wanted something I feared so greatly, so I dove in and found it. Fluorescent zooplankton lit the cavernous floor and a sense of serenity swept over my limp body.
A gentle white tip nipped at my fin and beckoned me further down. Morays and snowflake eels seldom darted out of crevices and accompanied the symphony of motion. It wasn’t long until I became one with this ocean.
Soon, a beautiful ray danced with me in the surf, its fin curling into a wave. Not the kind that took me down, but the kind that showed me grace; that showed me safety.
The hole — way larger than a wetsuit tear — that existed in my psyche was now being filled with warmth; a bath of liquid sunlight.
What can mend you, can break you.
What can end you, can save you.