the wonder of freediving

5th April 2014

IMG_3588 george deep whole hole-2

It happens to me almost every time i freedive. Whether it’s in a pool or in a lake or a sea, there usually is one moment where i lose myself in a moment of awe, of marvel, of wonder. I hesitate to use the word ‘wonder’, since my father was a philosopher and therefore i know the magnitude of the word. Wonder is the beginning of philosophy, the ‘that’ of an experience, which comes before the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. Wonder is his word, his world, and i’m not a philosopher, so i feel like a silly tourist in that world, using a word the depth of which i can’t begin to measure. But i’ve read and probably understood what my dad wrote about wonder, i’ve experienced it, and i recognise it in those moments underwater. I’d be more at ease using the word ‘magic’ -though it’d be better without the wand and alohamora associations. Some people would call it spiritual, or maybe god.  But wonder seems most accurate, if slightly pretentious.

These are moments when life is more than you could have ever imagined, and you’re absorbed in them so completely that you become one with them. In those moments, there is no identity, no thoughts, just experience. All that there is is what you see, hear, smell or feel. For me, as a visual person, it’s often what i see. And in freediving, it’s often linked to what i feel, the weightlessness, the otherworldliness of it -the combination seems to enhance the wonder. I feel wonder all around, but more so while free diving, and after i sense it, i want to photograph it. I often fail, sometimes i get close enough for me to be happy with it, very rarely do i capture it. Wonder does not seem to lend itself easily to a medium. My father tried his whole life to describe it.

Last winter i had so many moments in the Bahamas where i had to almost pinch myself to make sure i wasn’t dreaming, that i was glad to have put a gopro on my big camera. Big massive moments like swimming with a tiger shark, or hearing whales sing, and tiny little wonders like sand falling through water, all shared with friends. I’m not sure what to do with some of the pictures, but the videos became pretty evident soon on that trip: i heard just the song. A song about wonder. I had tons of material, but luckily, the song is 10 and a half minutes long. I still shy away from that word a little, but to me, this comes close, at times, to the wonder of freediving.

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