Went on a night dive to a shipwreck in shallow waters. We enter the water at sunset, lose the sunlight as we descend. One of the guys has a thing for glow sticks, so we’ve all attached different-colored glow sticks to our tanks. It makes it easier to identify other divers in the dark. A thin layer of sediment covers the wreck, and, once stirred up, diffuses the light sources coming from all the divers; they resemble the lights of spaceships on a foggy night. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Fish blink at us, briefly illuminated by our flashlights. Visibility is meh. But the wreck is interesting, full of nooks and crannies. Covered in blooming flora that undulates with the current.
We stay for 45 minutes, safety stop at 6 meters. Mammals can only visit this world for a limited time. Boyle’s Law and an inability to breathe through gills. When we surface, a brilliant orange full moon greets us, like a speckled persimmon-colored lantern lit from the inside. Huge and pendulous, the Sea of Tranquility somewhere out there on its almost translucent skin. I sing a catch of Moonlight Bay to it. Looks like it has just risen. Perfect timing.
I think about timing. How we are all atoms bouncing around in a collider. How perfect timing really is just coincidence, given meaning by the human need to attribute significance to seemingly statistically unlikely events. Everything human is unlikely. We defied the odds to climb out of the primordial ooze, evolve opposable thumbs and develop scuba technology. Just being here, floating in the ocean, staring at the moon, is unlikely. Pseudorandom post-dive philosophy, escaping my head like all the carbon dioxide that I am off-gassing.
Half a lifetime ago, I am sitting on a longboard in Half Moon Bay. My good friends float next to me on their boards. Mellow, post-surf conversation. We sit and watch the waves further out, in deeper water. The most neurotic of my friends is in Day 26 of what will eventually become a 3-year-long meltdown. We’ve coaxed him out here to get him out of his funk. Come and play, it’s a beautiful day. There might be dolphins, we say.
And we really do see dolphins. Somewhere between observations about the choicest waves of the day and the prospects of Clinton’s first run for the presidency, a pause in the conversation. Some thing moves in the deeper water. A group of dolphins flash by, impossibly fast, full of exuberance, like streakers on campus. And then they are gone. A blip on the radar. If we hadn’t been right there, right then, they would have swum by unobserved. My neurotic friend raises both arms into the air in solidarity with that other group of sleek mammals, a victory for perfect timing.