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Diving and Dreaming

By Diana McLeod

      Scuba diving is much like dreaming. Going under is like closing my eyes. I relax and drift gently downward into a world without apparent gravity. I am suspended in blue liquid. The ocean rocks me and cradles me weightlessly. My breathing becomes slower and deeper.

      It is an effort to bend my limbs or swim hard. Scuba requires deliberate and careful movement. I must learn to slow down, or I will use too much air. The wetsuit adds to this feeling. It hugs the body very tightly, cocooning me, much the same as blankets do on a bed.

      As a dreamer, I also experience classic moments of physical inability. I cannot walk; I am trapped in mud; I cannot run away because I am paralyzed for some reason known only to my subconscious. The only way to stop these dreams is to surrender to them, and to relax. The dreamscape will shift. I must swim at an angle to the flow, not against it, as a diver must do when caught in strong currents.

      The reef is alive with life, swarming with activity and ablaze with color. I swim through a dazzling array of plants and animals. Everywhere I turn, there are new experiences. Schools of fish swirl around me in seemingly endless shapes, sizes and colors. Colorful corals, sponges and anemones crowd together in a fantastic series of undersea gardens. Almost every time I go diving, I see new species that I have never seen before. New images crowd into my memory, often too quickly for me to retain them properly. They flicker like dream fragments across my subconscious.

      As we descend, the light changes. The sunlight softens, and the blue world of the deep takes over. The vibrant colors of reef life soften and color-shift into blue and grey monotones; much like the colors of the world above at twilight time. Down here are the deep water creatures. Way out in the distance, I see a shadow of something big; something that just came up from the depths. I don't know what it is, at this distance, but I know what it might be, and that sets my heart to racing.

      My imagination often brings me monsters of my own making when I dream. The tensions of the day return to me in the night, morphing into metaphor and allegory.

      I have many dreams about houses. I wander through room after room. One door one opens into another, in seemingly endless sequences. I try to remember the layouts, and the color schemes, as if I were about to move in, but I cannot retain all the details.

      The reef is the same. It unfolds before me in castles and crevices that I can lose myself in. I explore the same coral outcropping three times before I realize that I’'ve been there twice before. There is so much to see that I don't remember the landscape very well. The explosion of life before me blurs my memory and dazzles my eyes.

      It is time to prepare for resurfacing. We pause at the recommended diving "safety stop" (five minutes at three meters of depth). Up here, the sunlight is the strongest, so the colors are spectacular. I try to remember everything I see. I want to take those memories to the world above. I don't want to surface yet. I wish we had more time.

      At last, we surface. The minute I feel the air on my face and I open my eyes to the familiar world above, my state of mind changes. It is just like emerging from a dream. The magic fades as I haul my heavy body out of weightlessness and into mundane reality. Already, I can't seem to remember details. Part of me can not wait to go back.

      That night, I settle into bed at the little beach cottage. The feeling of weightlessness comes over me again. My breathing slows as I begin to descend....

      Thanks for reading! Diana

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