I am a very, very fortunate person. Through some twist of fate, it seems that a trip to the beach has, for the last few years, fallen on the week of my birthday. So this year, again, I had the chance to celebrate the anniversary of my arrival on this little planet from a beach in Mexico.
But this year was not by any imagination business as usual on our few days in the sun. This year, instead of sitting comfortably on my beach palapa bed in the shade and watching the fun in the waves, I decided make a change. I actually got in the water.
Well, it wasn’t really a decision — not like deciding which book to read or what to pick up at the grocery store, or even what next step to take in my life. It had that feeling of inevitability to it — as one of my spiritual mentors might say, that feeling of the unavoidable next right step in my life.
You see, I have always had a most frightening fear of water. To me, going into the water was the equivalent of dying. Logically, I know why I have this fear. Logically, I know that I will float. I even understand the mechanics of swimming. But I don’t now how to swim.
And until now, well, I couldn’t even walk into the water past my ankles. Until now, that is.
That fear ruled my life (and most of my vacations), until I was baptized. The odd thing to me about that day was, I wasn’t thinking about the water. I did have presence of mind enough to share a brief summary of my relationship to (or non-relationship-with) that liquid substance just before the moment of my baptism ritual. But I did not fret about before or freak out about after the fact that my face went completely under the water that day. But it was no magic bullet in the water fear arena; while during my next encounters with oceans and pools, I was marginally more secure (up to my knees now, not just my ankles). But I still felt the fear, even though it had lessened.
This trip, well, was different. And yes, I do attribute the change to my baptism, my licensing, and the many changes in my life and spirit over the last year. You see, it was no longer acceptable to be a person who lived in fear. I was now a person who lived in baptism.
Let me explain: while I was meeting the water, and taking my first steps into the ocean, sitting in the water, taking steps towards learning how to let go and actually swim (not quite there yet), and most of all, while I was floating down the lazy river in Xel-ha (something that I had fought for 5 years and that meant a long time in the water, with virtually no control), it occurred to me that, if my baptism meant anything then, it was not a one-time event. Baptism is a way of life. And that was the life I wanted to live, the life that I worked so hard to live.
So now, I can tell you that I actually enjoyed my time in the water. I cried great big tears at the moment I had to leave that great big bath tub that is the beach and the ocean on Riviera Maya. Yes, many other wonderful things happened to help me celebrate my birthday: a real mariachi band sang Happy Birthday to me and put a really heavy sombrero on my head; I ate great food; I rested; I had an amazing massage at the spa; I slept; and I got to spend uninterrupted time with someone I care about. Those things alone might have made in the best birthday ever. But the knowledge and peace I gained from that trip down the lazy river, well, that tops it all.
Now, time to get back to work.