All Men Dream, But Not Equally
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
It has been what feels like forever since I last wrote a journal post, and I apologize for that. I let all of you, as well as myself down, when I allow so much time between posts. I spent time prioritizing aspects of my life and my career, but I will do my best to be back on here! Writing on here holds me accountable in a way that nothing else can.
The last proper update I gave you was on my pleural space hell, the doctor’s diagnoses, the blood tests, and the plan I set forth.
The doctor instructed me to stop freediving, warning that freediving with a pleural effusion could result in the condition getting worse, inflammation, or possibly even a collapsed lung. “You can freedive with a broken arm or leg, sprained muscle, but you need your lungs!” he said.
I was told to come back to his office in a week to repeat the chest x-rays. Then he’d be able to tell me how long I’d be out of the water for, estimating it at around 3+ months.
That was on May 14th, 2017.
THE WEEK THAT FOLLOWED
“No freediving for 3 months or more.”
The memory of the moment he said that, played over and over in my mind, every time the news hitting me like pins getting knocked down in a bowling alley, only I never saw the ball coming. And this time there was no automatic machine that could put me back to where I once stood, that place was so far gone, the machine was broken. I was broken.
I cried. A lot. Each salty tear, a drop of my broken heart.
Every bit of me, my heart, my soul and my mind wanted to freedive, was ready to freedive, but my body said no.
I was transported from a world of my own devising, to spending my days in a prosaic computer work world, channeling all my thoughts and energy into my design projects, trying to distract myself to keep myself sane, trying to forget about my problems.
Thing is, it’s pretty easy, for me anyway, to forget the past, to forget moments, things, and even people. But I can never forget feelings, especially feelings of defectiveness and defeat which I never wanted to exist inside me.
Evenings were usually spent like a crazed hypochondriac, up until 2 or 3 am researching, trying to figure out what caused this and why my brain and body feel so wrongly attached and screwed together. Trying to find a way to put myself back together.
CHECK-UP 1 WEEK LATER
One week later I returned to Dr Sadek’s office to repeat the chest x-ray, feeling empty within and powerless, like a fish with a broken fin. I had yet to figure out what caused the effusion, let alone how to fix it.
Psychologically, I didn’t know if I could handle any more cruel surprises, but I went anyway. Better to know rather than to worry, I told myself. It felt like the future was an avalanche coming towards me without any sign of slowing down, and lately laying down in front of it has been looking like a better option.
But I wanted to know / needed to know how long I’d be out of the water for, so I could adjust my plans, and my expectations. I couldn’t begin to start over, because I didn’t know where to start.
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” -Confucius
As I sat in an oversized, fully-upholstered, black leather chair in Dr Sadek’s office (quite unusual for a doctor’s office), Dr Sadek was inspecting the still dripping wet x-ray, which was clipped onto an antique lamp shade.
After a lot of ah’s and hmms, he finally said: “Well, your lungs are 100% healed, the effusion is gone. It’s a miracle. I never would’ve expected it. Your lungs healed very fast!”
It took a several seconds for what he just said to sink in.
Gone? How could it be? How could such a serious, near debilitating condition go away so quickly?
“So, I can dive again?”
“Yes! Definitely, as soon as you like. I have no reason to say you can’t! Your lungs are completely normal now,” he said, reassuringly.
Not only could I resume freediving right away, he even signed a doctor’s note, which I could use (if I wanted to) for the upcoming freediving competition.
I couldn’t believe it.
Elation and surprise saturated into every cell of my body.
I walked into that office, thinking I was broken. I walked out, shining brighter than the sun.
Somehow, I don’t know how, one of the worst days of my life got tangled up with one of the best days of my life, it was like I was being rewarded after something was taken away from me, like my life was just a set of scales that someone with a bad sense of humor was regulating…
Walking home, as a brilliant ember sunset bathed the seascape in candle-lit hues, I kept thinking to myself, “I’m healed, I’m going to be ok,” reminding myself that it’s okay to let go of what’s already let go of me.
Then I decided it, there was no way to mask my impatience when it comes to a moment of personal reinvention. I was going to freedive, and I was going to compete.
I would do it, not for depth or the numbers or to prove anything to anyone, I’d do it just for me. To enjoy, to do my best. That way I would never have to wonder about what I could’ve or should’ve done.
For some reason, I always seem to have some degree of chaos in my life. It began in my childhood, growing up with 5 sisters and two brothers, never did I have spaces that were free of interruptions or turbulence.
As a result of that, I’ve always thought that that type of environment is just embedded inside me, deep in my memory and in every tissue of my body. My spirit has always been uncertain in its boundaries and in my body. My mind does that moving-a-mile-a-minute thing, fluctuating endlessly.
Simply, you could say, that it’s a bit difficult for me to relax. For the first twenty some-odd years of my life it was always go-go-go, work-work-work. Words like ‘relax’, ‘massage’, ‘meditation’ did not exist in my world. These are concepts I discovered 3-4 years ago when I started freediving.
So on the morning of May 30th, the first day of the Russian Freediving Competition, after only two days of training, I was surprised to find myself quite calm, focused, and happy!
Mentally, I was in a world of my own, with clarity and composure – a world which only I controlled, and although it pushed against a world of chaos, the two never intersected.
Maybe it was because my announced depths for my dives were quite conservative. -55 meters on day one and -56 on day two, both far from my personal best in constant weight.
Or maybe it was because I was so grateful to be able to do what I didn’t think I’d be able to do, so there wasn’t the space for nerves or anxiety.
“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” -Naomi Williams
Whatever the reason there was a peace inside me, that brought a whole new level of calmness and love to my dives. The experience, the successes of the dives, the challenges and the pure joy of the competition gave me the courage and clarity I needed, about the path that I was headed on.
The best part was, that I knew that I deserved this. Doesn’t everyone deserve something that doesn’t bite back when you try to feed it? This time I felt like the universe was actually attempting to give me that. Good things finally came about, and I was ready to embrace them.
To Nicolas, who is always there for me anytime, even when my world comes crashing down <3