Zen and the Art of Freediving

Today I stood between mountains of coral that towered next to me. Beneath thirty feet of crushing water, I sunk like a rock to the bottom and firmly stood with my feet planted on the sandy ridged bottom. Beneath the turbulent waves, I felt only gentle swaying with little current. Fan corals rocked back and forth alongside me. I could walk on the sandy bottom, pressing off each tiny dune in the sand for traction. With my arms spread wide, the walls of the reef were nearly within reach of my fingertips. Several large barracuda rested just above the sand, watching my every move with their teeth spilling from their jaws. I wondered what they were thinking between those gazing eyes. Some came close and while knowing I was not prey, still maintained a curiosity of what the goofy looking creature with no fins was. Yellow tail snapper the size of my leg swam by my ankles while large schools of Sergeant majors swam above, only their bellies visible at such depth. Packs of comb jellies glided along my face with their bioluminescence providing me with a fireworks show on the surface. Blues, reds, and greens flowed along their ciliated sides. Crevices in the coral hide enormous Jewfish grouper, massive spiny lobster, moray eels, and tiny elegant blue reef fish that all stared at me as I walked past. I laid down on the ocean floor between the reef walls on the crushed coral sand chomped down by the parrot fish jaws. I looked up at the world from where I have momentarily escaped. The evening sun shimmered on the worsening ocean surface, on the waves I would be shaken by on the trip home. The moor anchoring the boat steady bobbed slack and taut with the waves. Bermuda chub swam inches away from my mask, singling out my face as the greatest place of interest. I reached out and rest my hand on their glossy scales as the gentle drifted away.

Back on the surface, I couldn’t believe the world I had witnessed. I couldn’t believe that I visited it from the perspective of a local. Hell, as I’m typing this, I feel like I should pinch myself. There’s no way that could have been real. But the truth is, that underwater world was no dream. In this world that I couldn’t have imagined even granted a lifetime of imagination, I felt more alive than in this world above the waves of monotony and routine. I mean, I can’t be the only one that thinks this lifestyle is bullshit. The entire past two weeks I’ve been completely free to observe people. Two nights ago I sat at a bar across from a man who drank alone. At the Waldorf in Key West, I imagined he was on business. After several drinks alone with no conversing, I watched him return to his room after I went exploring the island for light seeking permit. That same day there was a wedding with a whole host of phonies putting on a face. I saw a man without a smile on a short leash to his baby craving wife. We don’t have to keep on pretending this is normal. We don’t have to do this. We don’t have to be this boring.

Humanity has discovered something amazing. We discovered that we don’t matter. We realized that our lives really are purposeless. So why are people still wandering like a bunch of mindless robots, gasping for air and fighting for food and sex? We don’t have to succumb to immature satisfactions of primitive beings. We fight our entire miserable existence so that we can have an even longer miserable existence. That doesn’t quite add up to me. We fear life but we fear death even more. In our fear we fall into a state of contentment with no exploration, no adventure, no laughter, and no change. We become content to die boring people with boring lives. I’m sure I’m not the first one to say this but screw that, man. Screw that boring, miserable, bitter, unhappy life. I have watched too many people piss away their lives with monotony and comfort, with addiction and routine to fall to the same pathetic mindlessness.

Your life is worthless unless you want it to be. Your life is purposeless unless you give it one. This is our one chance for an adventure. There is nothing else. When you die, nothing happens. So how do you want it to go down? Do you want to be the one who is sitting in the boat too scared to toe the water or do you want to be the one standing on the ocean floor with towering reefs on either side? Do you want to be the one who lives a life of addiction and habit or the person who does things against your body’s will just because it was a challenge? Don’t be pathetic. You know the answer.

I see so many people scared to try something new. This isn’t about missing out on one thing; this is about a lifestyle. This is about dying a miserable being. I see so many people with mindless addictions, exercising for hours routinely or consuming alcohol as soon as the clock ticks to the adopted appropriate hour. HTFU people. Take control of your life. When we found out that we are only a tiny part of this vast cosmic pool, we made ourselves vulnerable and needed to adopt a widespread change. We are not fish; we are not coral. We know what our situation is and we know that we are nearly entirely incapable of changing it. So instead let’s just observe it and enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying it, change something or don’t do it. Don’t bring the rest of us down because of your misery though.

I’m not here to tell you that our lives are worthless to depress you. A potential monotone life has already done a satisfactory job of that. A dent in a crater. Life is an amazing opportunity, why piss it away? You have no obligations. Do whatever the hell you want. The friends I surround myself with follow this one shot lifestyle. But the bitterness of the animalistic majority makes me want to return to my coral cavern. Nothing new though, this is just a reminder that you are free to ignore norms to instead choose to enjoy yourself.

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