In my instagram series called The Travelling Earring (because it’s about a travelling earring) I posted a picture of a conversation between a Swedish cat and the earring. The cat drawled, “You know T, I’ve seen a lot of people. And there are two types I’ve observed that constantly chafe against one another. If we imagine life as this beautiful, natural blue pool, deep as a TS Eliot poem, then the first kind dives in till say 1-2 metres max and resurfaces for breath. They can never go beyond that depth, it’ll kill them. The second kind dive in deep, they go beyond that level and more, even if they suffer without air to breathe, even if it kills them. And it is the lack of understanding between these two kind that breaks each of them.”
The deep divers, I’d dare say people like myself, tend to harbour a grudge against the snorkelers. But with time and the wisdom pills it keeps chucking my way, I’ve come to realise the snorkelers aren’t truly at fault. Someone, some time, while they were growing up taught them that to feel too much, to think too much, to be too much equals pain. Even media drives home the same point: pick up any newspaper, switch on the TV to any channel, scroll down your news feed and you’ll understand why it is better to be a Panda and chew bamboo shoots without a care in the world. Because the world is out to break you and if you remain open, unprotected, thinking and feeling too much, it will succeed.
The snorkelers choose happiness and succulent, two-second distractions to get through the day. They have hardly any expectations from friendships or relationships and are happy with the little they get from everybody. They know they are at the top of no one’s priority list, and they themselves keep no lists. For them life is a very in-the-moment experience: “The person I am with now is the most important person to me and tomorrow will be another day.” Over the years sedimentary deposits of time calcify these hearts and they become impervious to anything real or honest. Hopping from one stone to another in a stream, holding onto and letting go of light and frivolous bonds, they never really get more than their toes wet. I don’t blame them but I do wish for another perspective for them.
I was looking at an experiment the other day for work. It was about how a paint company had created these goggles for the colour blind so they could experience the range of colours that hitherto they couldn’t. The man who could only see shades of blue couldn’t stop crying at the beautiful, intense hue that was purple. The woman who had only seen one shade of green, was speechless at the different shades she could discern for the first time in her life. That is my gut instinct about the snorkelers. While they have seen the pain of a life lived deeply, they haven’t experienced the pure, unadulterated joy of that life. And that life makes for the closest thing to a truth in a world that seems more smoke than real.
By all means stay a snorkeler, but not because you never dove deep, but because you did and still choose to remain so. Without knowing, without giving something a chance, without allowing the mind to freely entertain a thought, one cannot decide who one is.
Relationships (family and friends) are sacred. I want full immersion in each other’s lives and the kind of love and understanding an extended family has for one another. I want my friends to know the little details of my life because those matter. And I want to know what’s going on with them. But even these expectations are at times foiled simply because not all my friends are deep divers, I dare say, a few of them are snorkelers. It’s hard to understand them at times because they have literally accepted the least threshold of expectations from others. While some say that is the path to happiness, I say unless you’re seeking nirvana like a Guru, that is a fake path to a temporary happiness. You don’t build a foundation out of cotton because it’ll be easier to lug to the construction site. Stones do the trick but they cost you in effort.
This is my truth, and someone else’s may differ vastly from it. And for all my talk of Snorkelers not being deep enough, I do value the diversity and perspective they bring to my life. I just wish at times that they’d dive a bit deeper with me, it would make for less frustration and who knows maybe they’ll like it at the deeper end.