Into Glittering Darkness

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What do you do in a country where, every couple of miles, federales agents with submachine guns peer at you and your dinky rental car? We were as popular as the monsoon season after a drought.

We were in a place where Americans go to spend their money, get marinated in alcohol, stuck on beach fronts and paradise, forget their troubles and go home. Happy vacation! I’ll be home after 5.

But we didn’t do any of that. Armed with a DSLR, our Kindles, a GoPro and sunshine optimism of tourists in a new country, we had attempted to hit the bar scene in Cancun (dead), do a little sightseeing (but it’s hot and humid), and sit at the beach and read. One dollar to sit here, amigo. No, thank you.

We booked a scuba tour with La Calypso Dive Center and Brenda, one of their divemasters took us on a tour that included two cenotes: Casa and Dos Ojos.

This is Casa. You are submerged in a world with spectacular views and almost endless visibility. The only limitations were the intervening walls of rocks and earth and the occasional mangroves.

You can see the pillars of light as they stab through the darkness. The experience was just frames, unspoken words and awe hung in the water like dancing particles and air bubbles.

You are now free to let go

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Sharon and I visited Dos Ojos Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico. I had picked this spot a while ago, having read about it on some scuba blog. The author had mentioned it was a spot where some famous thriller/horror film (The Cave? The Ascent?) was shot. And it’s largely due to that movie that the cenotes is the “tourist trap” it is now. Whatever, we didn’t care.

We donned our gear, our tanks, and our adventurous spirits (or our dollars–if you prefer–scuba is not a cheap hobby) and joined a trip with a local dive shop there. Having dived for a little over a year now, I’ve grown to find that divers are the same everywhere you go: eager, friendly, inviting, and passionate about sharing their livelihoods with you.

Dos Ojos itself looks like an enormous cavern. And while the layout is pretty simple, the darkness can easily make an intrepid diver or snorkeler panic and lose their way. As a result, the park maintainers have put in lines that you can follow. Our team of divers (myself, Sharon, two other tourists, and our divemaster) took the Barbie Line, affectionately named because of a toy Barbie being eaten by an alligator at the end of the line.

Unfortunately, my GoPro ran out of power due to the darkness; I was only able to capture about 1/3 of the dive. :(


On this coldest of October afternoons

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My friends and I have been driving for two and a half hours straight. Outside the car window, the afternoon sky is filled with opaque clouds that look like chalk dust smeared across the great blue sky. We made our way across Connecticut to Minnewaska NY to catch the season’s peak foliage blooms.

New York City hasn’t bloomed yet. In Central Park, you can see wide splotches of green still stubbornly hold on to the landscapes, resisting the inevitable change. Summer seems so far out of reach.

We stopped by a charming farmer’s market. Outside in the fields, you can see large swatches of pumpkins dot the landscape. Inside, the smell of nutmeg and cinnamon lingered in the air. I sat myself down next to a warm hearth and burned my back. But I didn’t care. I miss this warmth.


Jessica’s harvest

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My favourite season is here! The air is fresh and clean and there is a certain exuberance, an anticipation that comes before the harvest holidays. Summer is over and Autumn has come, and, with it, concord grapes season!

Jessica sits in front of me now across the table in the outside seating area of Republic in Union Square. She’s dressed in crisp white jeans and a warm-patterned tank-top. She has a voluminous mane of honey-coloured, brown hair with golden streaks that shimmer in the sunlight. A couple of Indian girls next to us, probably in their twenties, stole furtive glances at Jessica. I know what they are thinking and I don’t blame them. Jessica gets more beautiful every time I meet her.

The murmur of New York City looms over us in all directions. Pretty girls dart into my field of vision and disappear into the crowd all the same. We talk about life, love, and our love-life as so happens every time we meet. By sharing our experiences in this beautiful, lively place, you can’t help but feel a certain sonder, for each other, and for everyone around you.

Being a yuppie in the city, you think yourself invincible. You have a high disposable income, you have cool, interesting hobbies and you meet equally interesting people. You live in the city; you’re among the enlightened, the cosmopolitan, the metropolitan, the educated. I enjoy our conversations very much but it’s times like these that I also feel most vulnerable.


Two way traffic ahead

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It’s late summer in New York. We are exiting the M train at the Dumbo stop and are headed for the pier. The afternoon light is soft and the air is placid, easy to breath. We brush past the throng of people, past the humid, piss-scented air and emerge under the cerebral sky overhead. There is a blithely tune playing in my head, syncopated, punctuated, deliberate.

My world is clearer as of late. It’s been a slow and steady process and I’m moving forward, present tense. In the past few months, I’ve gained some clarity of my place in the world: how to lead a deliberate, purposeful life, and to be more kind and observant of the world around me.

There is an economic principle known as Creative Destruction, sometimes referred to as Schumpeter’s gale (German: schöpferische Zerstörung), that describes the idea that when things are stagnant in a country—often economically—it takes a massive disruption of the existing order to improve things and promote growth. Think of it as though a forest, thickened and densely packed together so that no sun reaches the lower surfaces, and everything on the floor starts to rot, catches fire or some other disaster clears some space, and things can start to grow again. I could think of no better way to describe the last year and a half of my life as relating to this principle.

Indeed, almost two years ago a massive gale inundated my life and I am forced to slowly pick up the pieces. Naturally, some pieces are still there, and some others, less desirable, pieces are discarded. I like to think of life as a series of these events. As a result, my ideas are always in flux–I never stop growing, always refining. Though I look at my old self with chagrin, I recognize that it’s taken that part of my life to grow into who I am today. As Big Mama said, “Darling, forever is a long, long time, and time has a way of changing things.