Cefalu, Jaws

“Jaws” was nothing like I expected. Actually I hadn’t expected anything. I had merely accepted an invitation from a boy my age to see a movie, and neither of us really cared what it was about as long as we got to sit in the back row.
When I stumbled out of the movie theater a couple of hours later, I was so numb with shock, I couldn’t have cared less if I’d been with The Incredible Hulk or Pinoccio. No amount of sweet talk and kisses could shake me out of the zombie-like state I was in, and I hardly remember how I got home. My young and still fairly innocent mind was totally occupied with trying to digest the horrors that were now forever engraved in my brain.
The aftermaths of the quake stayed with me for years to come. In the beginning I felt way in over my head in the ocean, but fine in swimming pools. Until I watched action movies featuring shark basin constructed for the sole purpose of taking care of any unlucky fellow who happened to cross the gangsters, and of course eventually the gangsters themselves if the movie had just a tinge of justice.
Now I started looking over my shoulder (a potential shark snack) in all kinds of bodies of water. And always having someone, friends, foes, unassuming strangers, swim next to me. I, of course, always staying closest to the shore. Not only “better safe than sorry”, but also “better them than me”, were my mottoes.

Great was my astonishment, therefore, when…

it dawned on me while basking in the Mediterranean with my two for most practical purposes grown up girls the other day, that I was the one swimming farthest out. They, who are able to kick most any fishy guy’s ass with their black belt graded taekwo-do feet, were practically swimming on top of me like ducklings on their mother’s back, as we were snorkeling in deep waters between and around several cliffs in the beautiful Kaluna Bay, just north of Cefalu, on the northern coast of Sicily. Complaining if I strayed too far away, complaining when sprays of water from my kicking feet hit their faces only millimeters away.

The realization made me so happy, I almost drowned then and there. (Laughing happily is no laughing matter when you’re far from shore, underwater, breathing through a snorkel). So when they suggested diving from a protruding rock, I was all in, body and soul. And as they afterwards climbed a 2-3 m high cliff, I followed swimming suit, and jumped, eyes first… I had been aiming for feet first, but lack of recent experience made me look down as I hit the water. For a second, I was convinced my eye balls had exploded. Upon checking I found that they hadn’t, so I just adjusted them a little in their sockets and climbed back up. This time, it seemed, we were aiming for higher grounds, and to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake again I went in looking straight ahead. My eyes were happy. I had forgotten to pinch my nose, however. Something, I suddenly remembered, is a wise thing to do. As I surfaced I was sending sandy dunes and salty air on all channels, and I am positive the water reached all the way up to my brain.

I was obviously lacking in routine and technique, but feeling like a million bucks, rich in the thrill, the happiness of the moment. I am still by no means free of fears, nor the leader of the pack when it comes to courage, and I am definitively not ready for “the swim-with-sharks”-tour. But I have recently made journeys, physically and mentally, that I’ve previously never thought I’d make. Thanks to fortunate circumstances and turn of events, support from family and friends spurring me on and a realization that life is short and precious, and not living it is rather boring. More importantly, it is also meaningless and ungrateful. How we live is of course a matter of circumstances, considerations, wishes and goals. But regardless of our life’s “state of affairs”, we always have a choice; to sit back and let things happen to us, knocking us over, leaving us feeling like powerless victims, or pick up the glove, and make the best of or a run for it, depending on what the situation calls for. Bearing in mind that seeking help and support is a sign of strength and not of weakness.

Dance the Dolphin Dance

Fear and worries usually turn out to be an awful waste of time, time that could be spent in a more constructive, interesting and fun way. So even though I am not rid of fears, I’ve made up my mind not to let them rule my world. I will walk the paths I long to walk and swim the waters I love to swim. If or when shit happens I’ll just have to deal with it, like I and everybody else always have and always must.

So if I ever see a dark fin approaching, I’ll be as scared as the next woman, but preferring it to be a terrible surprise, not a fulfillment of a long dreaded expectation. And who knows, maybe the fin even turns out to belong to a friendly dolphin, wanting to accompany and support me, frolicking and inspiring me on my life’s swims. You’ll never know what’s beyond the cliff face until you swim past the corner.

More about Kalura Bay, my review Trip Advisor Kalura Bay

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