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Nemo, the Little Mermaid, and Me

I have a love/hate relationship with the ocean. I love to listen to the waves crash onto the shore. And depending on where I am, there is nothing more I’d rather do than begin my day by watching the sun rise from the sea while enjoying a good cup of coffee, or end the day watching it sink below the horizon, while sipping a glass of wine.

snorkeling, the little mermaid, nemo, new challenges, midlife

But when it comes to getting in the ocean, although I’m a good swimmer, I’m scared to death of its power. Anything that can rush on to the shore with the ferocity of a scorned woman and destroy an entire village is not a place where I feel comfortable.

A few years ago, while in Hawaii for my daughter’s wedding, I was the opportunity to go snorkeling. Of course, I immediately said ‘no.’ Images of myself being thrust about in the clutches of one giant wave after another sent my heart into palpitations, the likes of which Freud would have had trouble rationalizing.

Thank you very much, but I was content to sit on the shore and watch my family trudge into the ocean looking like space people and then listen to their tales of wonder upon their return.

But after several days of  letting me watch, they put on the pressure.

We are in a safe cove.

The ocean is as calm as a lake. 

No waves will just spontaneously appear.

So I took a few deep breaths, said a few Hail Marys (even though I’m Jewish) and gave in. With my fear under control (sort of), I then had to tackle the aspect of breathing into the snorkel tube.

Making my mouth in that O shape reminded me of only one thing. And although that particular activity can get tiring, it usually results in my own personal O.

This, I feared, could end up as an episode on one those real life rescue shows – with me as the victim. It took several minutes, but I did get into the rhythm of breathing through my mouth, as awkward as it was.

With fins in place, mask pinched against my skin, tube in mouth, I waddled as gracefully as possible, toward the ocean.

Up until that day, my understanding of the world beneath the sea had been limited to scenes from Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. Oh, I knew a world existed, but until that moment when I placed my face in the water and actually saw it for myself, I never knew it was this, well, other-worldly.

My fear swam away quietly, leaving me in awe of what I was seeing. Blue coral fingers reached toward the surface. Tiny schools of fish swam before my eyes like a multicolored flag. Larger fish chased smaller ones. Everywhere there was movement. Graceful and colorful.

When a cloud covered the sun, the sea grew dark and then when the cloud passed, it was like a door opening, placing a warm hand on my back, adding a brilliance to this magnificent scene.

I don’t know how much time passed. The silence enveloped me, carrying me along in my own cocoon as I observed the sea life. A life which probably doesn’t look much different today than hundreds of years ago. No technological advances to disturb or upset this universe.

I can only wonder what I looked like to the sea creatures. Did they gaze in terror at the sight of my alien face, with goggles for eyes and a tube for a mouth? Or were they as comfortable with me as I now was with the sea?

As I headed for shore, I thought maybe I should sign up for scuba lessons and really get into the world below. But then a wave crashed against the back of my legs, sending me face first into the water.

Okay, maybe I’m not ready yet for scuba diving, but I’ve had a taste of the life below the sea and I have to admit it was pretty darn addictive.

Maybe not as much as watching the ocean while enjoying a glass of wine.

But almost.

Read more from Janie Emaus on her website

Janie Emaus

Janie Emaus is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. She has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth. She is a staff writer at In The Powder Room. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year . Janie believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again. To learn more about Janie visit her blog and her website Janie Emaus. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @Janie5010.

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Patricia Yager Delagrange

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

Great post, Janie, and I can relate to your feelings. I have always lived on the coast of California and when I didn't - when I was in Corvallis, Oregon, for two year - I did not like being that far away from the water. Yes, it was psychological but that's just me. I have to be near the ocean. Yet, I don't like being on boats and though I enjoyed snorkeling in Hawaii once I wouldn't do it on a regular basis. I believe scuba diving would be awesome but I'm afraid of drowning. I've always said I'd rather die in a drive-by shooting than drown. But that's just me.

Janie Emaus

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

I love being near the water, too. I'm sure I'll snorkel again, anything deeper requiring tanks to breathe. Count me out.

Vicki Batman

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

Hi, Janie! You did more than I would have. First, there's the whole contact (how to see) issue. Second, something large bumped my legs when I was wading in the Gulf. Third, I've switched from water to mountains. And am enjoying that more.

Janie Emaus

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

I couldn't really see that well, come to think of it. I had to leave my glasses on the shore. Or maybe my vision was better underwater!

Rayne Golay

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

It is a great experience. I saw the deep yonder for the first time from a submersible. As my son is a licensed deep sea diver, who has traveled the world over diving in remote and exotic places with sea life to defy the imagination, his photos and videos from down below have vetted my curiosity so that I've tried deep diving with him as my guide. It's a world to behold. If you know what you do, follow the rules of basic safety and keep in mind the ocean is an unknown element to us, you're safe.

Janie Emaus

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

I would definitely go deep sea diving if had son like yours. How lucky for you!

Carol Cassara

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

Funny--I never considered what WE look like to sea creatures. Now THAT was a visual laugh!

Kathy Bennett

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

I've never snorkeled, but your entertaining description has made me want to try. Now, if I can just convince my husband to take me to Hawaii or some other tropical location.

Janie Emaus

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

You would love Hawaii. Let me know when you're going and I'll tag alone!

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