23 July 2018 4.15 p.m.
Yesterday morning, I’d started the day with a meditation. This is how it ended.
I went swimming late. The sea was warm with gentle waves. The slice of pre-sunset sky above the horizon was solid gold, a flotilla of pencil grey and mauve imaginary creatures floated above, assembled on the sky-wide stage to say goodbye to the sun, flanked by soaring, lighter, fluffy creatures hemmed in orange and gold that spread ribbons of reflections across the darkening sea. A cosmic theater set for something magical to happen, an opening moment for revealing a gift.
I turn my attention to the water. A couple frolicking nearby call out to me: “Que maravilla! Un regalo de Dios!” “Si”, I laugh, I wholeheartedly agree, it’s a gift from the gods. “La Gloria!” I shout in reply and swallow a mouthful of saltwater. We swim, move in the water, do strokes, leg exercises or tread water, one can’t tell what everyone is doing underwater, hands slice waves, arms thrash, as between bobbing heads a conversation starts. The husband, without so much as an introduction, quotes Plato, adds something about Aristotle, I get a chance to barge in just in time as he deep-dives into the evolution of humanity before his captive wet audience. Someone else swims towards our odd group, a young Moroccan girl.
The current takes me away from them as my eyes are glued to the last sliver of vanishing sun. When I rejoin, the conversation among the three has shifted to religion. The philosopher’s warm, fatherly voice explains that we all, Christians and Muslims alike (plus everyone else), are children of God. The girl is called by her father who is seated on the beach, next to head-to-toe-covered Mom and two little brothers playing in the sand. She wades away with a happy smile, long wet locks covering her green T-shirt.
It’s close to nightfall, soon one will barely distinguish the three swimmers who bumped into each other in this quarter mile of the Mediterranean, but they keep talking – high philosophy in the water, a trialogue between three wet heads, getting more and more animated, in sync with the swelling waves that occasionally half-wash over them, it is such an incongruent scene, so deliciously unlikely I can’t help laughing. “I feel like I’m in a Fellini movie,” I call out against an oncoming wave, “too bad, we should have recorded this!” More laughter and “Yes, Amarcord!” comes back.
Back on dry land, the threesome decides to prolong the fortuitous encounter in a nearby café. The philosopher came equipped only with his now wet swim trunks and a T-shirt; he wraps my spare toucan-and-pineapple beach-towel around as an add-on sarong. Travel, life stories, philosophy, countries, psychology. We talk and laugh till we’re hoarse, high on Schweppes, herb tea and horchata, nibbling on salted almonds and ensaladilla rusa. “We got lost on the way, near another beach,” the philosopher tells me as we get up to leave because they’re closing. “Let’s go and swim here, my wife said. I said: No, this isn’t where I’m supposed to be.”
Amazed, we realize we’ve shared profound personal insights and secrets. We agree that one single thing holds it all together, our universe and all universes beyond: “el Amor”.
It’s past midnight when we depart, phone numbers saved in each other’s smartphones, cars heading their separate ways.