Sunday, April 6, 2008

You say Goldfish, I say Garibaldi

As a Boomer, I find myself on a precipice over which I really don't want to fall. We boomers might consider ourselves kind of old sometimes, but we like to distinguish ourselves from the truly elderly by thinking we are still somehow "cool." The quickest way to be uncool is to constantly tell stories about the cool stuff you did when you were young. The uncoolness solidifies when you wind up telling the same stories over and over--to the same people!

One of the coolest things I did when I was young in California was to become a SCUBA diver at the age of 15 and continue diving until I left the state 25 years later. I love the underwater world, and I love the kelp forest of southern California and its denizens. I try not to expound on that too much to unsuspecting young friends, because it is in the past--and a hallmark of the truly elderly is that they don't see any new adventure in their futures, so they just talk about the past over and over (well, that's how it seems in the world of the Bemused Boomer.)

I do keep little mementoes and pictures about that remind me of past joy. I try not to point them out to people and expound at length (but its' a struggle!) When I'm feeling nostalgic, sometimes I search the internet for pictures of things I remember (because we all know how reliable the human memory is--especially boomer memory!) I hit pay dirt when I happened onto while searching for pictures of Garibaldi, the bright orange perch that play in the kelp and swim right up to divers. (They know they are safe; there has been a moratorium on spearing them since about the 1940s.) I loved playing with the Garibaldi.

I have this photo on the wall of my dark little cube at work. It was recently taken in waters off of Catalina Island, California, by a British diver named Carina Hall (Divesitedirectory put me in touch with her and she sold me a print.) At first glance, you probably see the same thing my co-workers see : a couple of goldfish. I see the glorious blue water of Southern California, the constantly moving golden kelp in a forest that is a nursery for all types critters, and two Garibaldi, who like to nip at divers' masks then dart away. I feel the cool water and hear the crackling shrimp. I feel the freedom of being bouyant in a 3-dimensional world that allowed me to swan dive to the bottom of a cliff to look into a cave and almost effortlessy kick my way back up, spying on thousands of little creatures in their rock homes as I did (it was fun for me; probably a little terrifying for them.)

I suppose that at some point the picture will become such a part of the background I won't notice it much. I've had it up for several months now, though, and I still get that same rush of joy I felt when I was underwater. They say visualizing and remembering great experiences activates the same areas of the brain as the actual experience. I hope so. I need something to hold me over until I go out and create some new adventures!

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