I recently spent a glorious week living on a 60 foot catamaran diving night and day as we sailed through the Exumas. It was my own rendition of Survivor, 9 people coming together as strangers, add in a crew of four from all over the world, all sharing close quarters, becoming more intimate as the week progressed. There was one dive that stands out in particular. It was called “The Washing Machine”. We timed our being there with the tides and hoped for the best. The general idea was that we would all enter the water simultaneously with negative buoyancy, drift together in the strong current until we were pulled in to a 65 foot hole that because of the tides in that moment would toss us and turn us until it spits us out the other side. As I heard about this dive, I imagined the sense of weightlessness in outer space, freely somersaulting and twisting and turning in the water, moving from top to bottom in an instant and side to side. I could hardly wait.
Dive time arrived and after counting down, we all jumped in quickly, no need to check that the person before was out of the way as they had already been swept by the current. We needed to stay together. I hit the water, certain my BCD was drained of air, 22 pounds of extra weight and a full tank and I could not break the surface immediately. I really do like to float!! I took my time, breathing slowly and exhaling strongly and watched myself drop and quickly catch up. It was beautiful, moving effortlessly, at times sideways, being pulled with the current. Then the moment came and I found myself approaching the hole, suddenly, I was in, completely surrendered, moving up and down, side to side…not having to do anything, watching myself being pushed and pulled, there was nothing to do. To resist in that moment would have been futile. It was bliss. The state of complete surrender and absolute awareness is truly, a marriage made in heaven. It’s what my soul longs for every day with every breath and yet I keep getting in my own way. I think I know better so I drive my life this way or that way, depending on my heart’s desire but how often do I truly surrender and just watch it all happen without any preconceived notion of outcome? That is freedom at its best!
All too soon, I found myself out of the hole and back on course with everyone else being pulled by the current to the location the boat was going to pick us up again. In hindsight, I remember bumping into a coral head we were passing by and it was shortly after that I found myself floating quickly back to the surface, leaving my fellow divers 12 meters below me. This was an all too familiar feeling, floating near the top when I am to be diving at the bottom. I try everything I know to get myself back down and finally accept that I’m not going anywhere. I catch up with the buoy the dive master is dragging along and I pull on it showing her where I am and she tries to pull me back down. We are in a tug of war before she realizes I have lost half my weights and lets go. My dive buddy, Chris (a beautiful surrendered diver who lives in constant awareness of his surroundings in the water) comes to the surface and after trying to pull me down, realizes the issue and informs me of my weightless situation. The dive is almost over; I’ve only missed the last 2 minutes of it. I swim over to the emergency dingy and Sam helps me in. I had wondered if I would get a ride in that dingy. I truly wanted to experience all that I could this week and here it was, being offered to me again. One of the things I have loved about diving was always the entry into the water by rolling backwards off the boat. I had missed that on this trip as the boat was structured so that our entry involved a stride step in rather than rolling off the back of the boat. I was so excited when the dingy got close to the group and Sam instructed me to roll backwards and join the rest of the group again. Really, everything my heart desired was coming my way! Of course…that is what our life is all about. There is nothing else…what we are in alignment with always comes our way, whether we like it or not.
In reflecting on my experience, I am acutely aware that diving the washing machine is a great metaphor for life. The more we try and control something, the more difficult we make it. When we truly surrender and observe our life through an open heart, there is nothing but bliss. When we are pulled in a direction that others are not going, it may just be our destined path with our own experiences and life lessons. I’ve always been aware that I beat to my own drummer and live life following my heart but there was always a part of me that wished that I could do it like everyone else. Diving the washing machine or living the life in the washing machine, it is clear that I will move in a direction unlike any other. Today, I surrender my desire to be on a path resembling others. What do you surrender today?