I was 5 years old. I sat in the staircase of my apartment building where I resided with my mother. I looked through the window I faced, pondering the why and the how, trying to define the meaning of myself: Who is this person inside of me? Why do I think like this? Why do I act like that? Why do I feel this way? At such an early age I already had a deep interest for existential philosophy, although I didn’t have the knowledge nor the experience to answer much. There was a constant hunger to know more. A need to fill the void. I’d ask my mother:” Who am I?” She’d answer: ” You’re my daughter. You are Capucine and you are 5 years old.”
I always felt different, yet I didn’t know why. Although I always had a strong circle of friends, I always found myself safer in nature, in quietness, in open space, in something I didn’t quite understand yet…
When I started to travel, adventures and experiences were predominantly leading my way of living. During a trip to Panama, I decided to get certified for scuba diving. I learnt in the natural pool of the ocean. While at the surface of the water I feared the underneath, being part of the ocean made me feel safe. It made me feel like floating in space, into an under-terrestrial world, where all worries and efforts vanish in the void. In the ocean, I felt far from the light of the surface, far from the reality I perceived, floating into the darkness of the depth, drawn into selflessness. There was something so special and unique about diving that trigged my curiosity. I wanted to go back underneath the surface, and explore that state of mind that I had experienced.
When I moved to the Caribbean, I had the chance to be surrounded by one of the best diving playground in the world. I took the great opportunity to dive frequently. Every dive had it surprises and its secrets, its poesy and its romance. Yet, it wasn’t just about finding that shark or that eagle ray or that murray eel. It was the opportunity to withdraw completely from the world, and from myself. It was a disengagement from my reality, a liberation of all worries. It was about losing all longing for worldly desires. But mostly, is was about letting go of doing and entering a place of just being.
While breathing underwater, I’ve never felt so disconnected from my conception of reality, this persistent illusion that I have of life at the surface. Yet, this void, this unconsciousness that I encountered underwater brought consciousness into my life: I became aware. I was aware of my breathing, of my surroundings, of every little detail that filled the space. I was in a state of void, filled with blissful awareness. I was aware not only of my body and of the existence of my mind that I discovered at 5 years old, but also of my soul, my consciousness.
I noticed the vast openness, the emptiness allowing all things to be. I understood that you can’t have something without nothing. Like you need empty to see solid, a background to see contrast. By emptying myself I allowed the ocean fill me in. I became interconnected with the elements: I was the ocean. I was the fish. I was part of it all. And that was my reality.
Living life one breath at a time. Every breath I inhale purifies my mind. Every breath I exhale releases a worry. It clears my mind, empties it from contaminated ideas and thoughts. It is a return to the essence of the mind, intrinsically pure, empty. Like nothing else in the world matters than breathing and being.
Breathing underwater is nothing like our daily life at the surface. It is one deep and long breath at a time. There is absolutely no rush. Because if you do, you die. So is life at the surface much different? Why are people rushing so much on Earth? Where are they trying to go if it isn’t quicker to their death bed?
Most people fear nothingness. They see emptiness as a negative state. Just as some see scuba diving as boring, inactive, with a lack of thrill. Their reality of life is conceptualized by one’s own ideas, and formed by a culture of rushing in the doing-mode, living busily and effortfully, and striving for better and bigger in order to give a sense of self. But really, the basic of reality is nothing. Once you experience the true essence of nothingness, it reveals the meaning of everything. It provides you with clarity, and allows you to make room for new choices, and open up a world of possibilities. Because the void is fertile. And new things come out of it. Scuba diving not only allows me to be amazed by the simple details of nature and wowed by the grandiosity of the ocean, it also brings me blissful awareness, clearness, happiness and peacefulness. It allows me to rest in the stillness and the quietude of my being, to be aware of my surroundings, to interconnect with the elements, and to reconnect with the essence of who I am and how I want to be in this world.