After midnight, 23 October 2019, from a freediver dad


Dear Son,

Later today you will be born. A couple weeks ago, in an ultrasound pic, I saw your broad face for the first time, eyes closed, hands folded like a Lil Buddha Mastermind. So peaceful, so deep in sleep you are, in your amniotic watery world.

What are you dreaming about right now? What do kids dream about before y’all are born?

Your impending birth fascinates and terrifies me.

Right now, you have no idea of the world you are about to enter. But you were absolutely intentioned, we did not do this lightly, and we absolutely believe in your future.

Our here, there is a lot of talk about 2050, a date that has become kind of a place marker for our Earth, the point of no return, especially climate catastrophe.

Even the oceans are supposed to have more plastic by weight than fish in 2050 if we don’t turn things around.

Out here, our world reels with chaos, crisis and calamity, from wars, racism, mass incarceration and mass disinformation to burning rainforests, ocean acidification, and mass extinction.

At the same time, our world is still achingly beautiful and alive and insistently determined to survive and thrive.

Each morning legions of people wake up and think “my life is not just for myself” and commit to working harder to make life better for others and our living planet.

Each day, people have friends. Each day, people fall in love, inhabiting the awesome, mystical, cacophonic magnitudes of human emotion and feeling.

Each day, people study for careers and plan families.

People live like there is a future we can count on.

Each day, our oceans, while depleted, still pulse with life, and electric blue silver yellow fish bullet through open water so fast they reach 60 mph, while others chill at the bottom on coral reefs full of color that aren’t bleached white.

Tonight you sleep inside your beautiful mother’s (alarmingly distended) belly (dads are kind of queasy about things like pregnancies), your other mom next to you, and it is quiet and night.

Much of the hemisphere on this side of the world sleeps with you.

All people, doers of great good or perpetrators of great evil, were once newborn babies. Where does innocence begin and where does innocence end?

All I can say Young Blood is that by taking care of others, we take care of ourselves. And that we can have the most exhilarating lives by getting healthy and giving back.

As your dad, I will do whatever I can to ensure you have the proper influences and natural earned confidence (which is very different from arrogance) to navigate, process and adapt to this world, and maybe if you are so moved play a hand in helping the world be better.

As a young man of color growing up in this chaotic world you will certainly at times be seen as a threat. And you’ll probably find that people’s reactions to you are never always one thing, especially as a mixed dude, so you may often feel like life is a minefield.

People, including at times police officers, may have already decided about you without even knowing you, and you will rarely know what those decisions and assumptions are because they shift like sand and vary from person to person. In the last few months I have been yelled at to go back to South America, approached at night by a concealed-weapon-carrying person who’d decided I was a black man about to rob my own car in my own garage parking spot, accosted at the airport like a Middle Eastern terrorist, called an East Indian “devil”, asked if I was Mexican, and more.

You will also find that some people will hunger for violence against your person just because they see you. But here is the key thing: not the majority of people.

Don’t let life harden your heart too much. The sensitive man is the tough man. Just keep enough ability to put somebody in their place, or neutralize the threat if you’re physically attacked. You have the right and duty to defend yourself.

But, like a wise older woman from Minneapolis once told me, “Be careful of whose energies you get pulled into.”

Sometimes defending yourself is simply walking away because you got too much good shit going on to be bothered.

Early on, it will be critically important to start creating a vision and plan, so that you lead yourself into your own life versus letting life just happen to you. That will save you a lot of stress, lost time and heartache.

Those ideas and plans will grow and even change, but they’ll give you a basic focused path forward. Goals matter. There will be shit all around that distracts or endangers your path, clawing and dragging at you. Try to be mindful and present, and choose what you engage with.

I would be lying if I said life hadn’t brutalized me. I’ve learned a lot the hard way. And I’ve always cared about the larger world, which often means double impact.

I’ll do whatever I can to gift you the tools, clarity, discernment, wellness, stamina and resilience to ensure life doesn’t brutalize you too, no matter how rough it gets.

Being a vegan athlete who’s been plant-based for 22 years has helped my unbreakability a lot, and I’ve pretty much discovered the fountain of youth. I still work at mindfulness, stress reduction, and not overthinking things.

The bottom line is, no matter how hard life gets, you keep going.

We’re all stronger than we think we are, and we all have extra reservoirs of strength inside us even when we feel we have nothing left. The key is to train and hone those extra reserves of strength so they’re ready and available when you need them.

And make sure you take a lot of quiet time! That right there is when you listen to your soul. Full scope health balances the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

I have no idea what 2050 will be. Even in the five years I’ve been here in South Florida, on the beach just north of Miami, the seas rise up out of the street grates a lot more than when I first got here. Definitely this place is the walking dead. Someday people will dive the ruins.

I’m a freediver. Fish are miracles and the underwater world is like outer space pulsing with alien life forms that blow your mind.

I’ll show you as soon as you get old enough. Fish swim right up to you, look you in the eye, electric colors rippling their flanks as if charged by some alien power source that might be God.

Sometimes I see nurse sharks sleeping on the bottom. Their full, supple bodies breathing in and out make me drowsy like I could fall asleep too on the surface right above them.

Sometimes I see sleek fish jump out of the water into the oxygen air and sunlight.

Do they hold their breath? Is air to them like water is to us?

They would suffocate in our air like we do in their water.

What do fish see when they come up into our world?

It’s likely none of them have ever heard of the Slave Trade or the Civil War or World War II or any of our madness, even while swimming underneath.

Across the globe, all this time, they’ve likely had no idea all of this has been going on.

Back in the 90s, I was so excited about the New Millennium.

Dr. Lewis Thomas, author of The Lives of a Cell, wrote: “Just get us through this century and into the next, then watch what we can do.”

The Year 2000 would be the start of this intensely new, green, fairness-based, and open-ended future. Our world would burst with health, communication, and renewal.

I believed it with all of my being.

Now, at the end of chaos-strewn 2019, you will be born, and only turning 30 two months before 2050! I have worked my entire adult life for that future.

When you reach 2050, I hope you can look around and say “we made it”.

You will be my first biological child. Living in Texas, I adopted your older brother K at the age of 2, and he used to fall asleep sitting on my shoulders.

His entire kid life we went down to Galveston to kick it on the beaches and in the Gulf of Mexico.

We loved the sun and the water. He is now 21 and has a daughter of his own.

My granddaughter will be two years older than you, my new son.

I don’t have the slightest idea what y’all will call each other. 😀

Can’t wait to meet you man. The last year was so rough there were times I didn’t think I’d make it.

Freediving underwater, if you don’t hold your breath, you’ll drown.

But all you gotta do is get to the surface.

The sun looks like a white halo up there through the light blue water.

I held my breath till you got here.

Looking at your sleeping little face in the ultrasound pic, I texted K: “Wonder what kids dream about before they are born.”

“Probably swimming,” he said.

‘Akhraj wazdahar. Nou renmen ou. 💙💙

© Jarid Manos, 23 October 2019