1998 Byron Bay, Australia. We had been doing the dreaming practice all morning with Sarah. “Let’s go to the tea tree lake,” she said. “There’s something amazing that happens there.” So we walked down to a warm still pool where the roots of the tea tree go deep into the water and stain it red brown. We swam out to the middle. “Now,” said Sarah, “You have to dive down as deep as possible, then just let yourself float up. Keep your eyes open and look up. Whatever you do, remember the light!”
We all dived down together. I opened my eyes. It was almost completely dark-brown. Then I looked up and saw a dim golden colour above me. As I floated up from the dive it got stronger and stronger, until it burst into a shower of diamonds as I surfaced with my two companions at the same time and burst into laughter. We were all laughing and splashing water around us. Amazing we all agreed. And immediately dived down again.
Nothing really “happened” at the lake. It was an intense experience for a few moments but in those moments, naked, diving into the brown and golden water, bursting through the surface of the glittering sunlight, we had become different beings. It was as if our modern European histories no longer existed, our city biographies. We were suddenly just three human beings in the middle of their lives, enjoying the earth together, starting again at a certain point in time . . .
2010 Southwold, England. The sea is green and brown, wrinkled, flecked with afternoon light. I am swimming in the shallows with my eyes shut and my dolphin companions are no longer with me. It’s an old working sea, the North Sea and the place I am swimming, this East coast pleasure dome, is old too. It seemed for so many years, those years when I was travelling and writing that the world would change for the better, that people would come to love the Earth again, and now floating in these small waves, I am wondering whether it ever will. Sometimes I feel old and so very tired.
And yet I swim: abandoned to the wild water, immersed in all that light, everything dissolves in the ocean's vastness and fluidity. I stop creaking, the pettiness of the mind falls away. Time loses its hold and I stretch outwards to the horizon. I feel I belong to everything. To the whole world. All those difficulties we face - climate change, peak oil, economic meltdown - are because we forget this small thing, the relationship we come to experience, the cosmic embrace of the sea, the eternal avenue of sweet limes, the expansive month of July. How when we remember anything is possible.
This morning I awoke after drinking the golden limeflower tea. It was a perfect morning. Complete in a way only a summer's day can be. And so we took our breakfast down amongst the dunes and faced the sea that was calm and sparkling. There was no one on the beach. The larks sang overhead. A fishing boat ploughed through the golden water and then Beth appeared with Jessie her African lion-hunting dog and we talked neighbourhood apples trees and about a writing project she calls the Ladies of the Lane and I call Honouring the Elders. Then we all went into the sea together.
It's on mornings like these I know we live in amazing times. So long as we take the deep dive. Into the blue, into the sea change. Remembering to keep our eyes open.Taking the plunge: submerging in the pool by Marko Modic, Ecuador 1991; showing Ollie how to face the waves, Southwold 2009 - the sequence of photos by Andy Croft that began this blog; Beth, Jessie and me by the sea by Mark Watson