Water is something you cannot hold. Like men. I have tried. Father, brother, lover, true friends, hungry ghosts and God, one by one all took themselves out of my hands. Maybe this is the way it should be—what anthropologists call “normal danger” in the encounter with alien cultures. It was an anthropologist who first taught me about danger. He emphasized the importance of using encounter rather than (say) discovery when talking about such things. “Think of it as the difference,” he said, “between believing what you want to believe and believing what can be proved.” I thought about that. “I don’t want to believe anything,” I said. (But I was lying.) “And I have nothing to prove.” (Lying again.) “I just like to travel into the world and stop, noticing what is under the sky.” (This, in fact, is true.) Cruelly at this point, he mentioned a culture he had studied where true and false virgins are identified by ordeal of water. For an intact virgin can develop the skill of diving into deep water but a woman who has known love will drown. “I am not interested in true and false,” I said (one last lie) and we fell silent.
from Diving: Introduction to the Anthropology of Water by Anne Carson