I have come across quizzes over the years that promise to tell me which earth element I am, and whether or not I have done them, I have known that the answer is Water. Even if the answer wasn’t water, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was. I am a water baby. I can become almost catatonic watching it on a calm day, its flat surface broken only by little fish lazily searching for bug snacks. My blood will surge when the wind is high, and the water is whipped into a frenzy, the white caps crashing on the shore. I would think I had died and gone to heaven if I could wake up every morning and see it out of my window. So why am I afraid of it too?
I think it all started when I first saw the movie Jaws. Compared to today’s movies, it’s kind of cheesy, but in the 70’s, man, that movie scared the hell out of me. After years of summers spent swimming like a fish, I became afraid of what might be lurking below the surface. Now, I grew up in Ontario, Canada, so it’s not like I was about to meet a shark any time soon. Didn’t matter. There was just something about those unseen depths that freaked me out. I became afraid of what I couldn’t see. What might be there. What might happen. As a result, I haven’t swum in deep water for years.
But recently, my in-laws took the family on a cruise that would have stops near some incredible coral reefs. I did not want to miss this opportunity. Deep water or not. Sharks or not. I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. So I went to Canadian Tire and purchased a cheap snorkel set and packed it in my suitcase. When we reached our destination, I put on my gear and jumped in. My heart was pounding. I was breathing hard.
And it was beautiful. Colourful. Blue and orange fish were swimming below me and around me. Big ones. Little ones. At one point, I was in the middle of a school of silver fish, like the ones in Finding Nemo, swimming with them. It was incredible. Freeing. Once I could see what was down there, my fear disappeared. The unknown was not so scary after all. I felt a kinship with those fish. Even the little barracuda and all his sharp teeth that was beside me at one point. I stayed in that water until my lips were blue and my fingers were wrinkled.
So another life lesson was learned. After all, this experience is kind of an analogy for life, don’t you think? So many of us are walking around afraid of what we do not know. Who we do not know. Maybe we all need to buy some goggles and look under the surface. Maybe we’re all missing out on a whole lot of beauty. Colour. Freedom. Who knows? Maybe we’re missing some incredible experiences because we’re too afraid to try.