I Snorkel

Susan Wyatt CopyRight @ 1998

I Snorkel. I love the beauty and the terror of the ocean. At Buck Island I saw huge columns of staghorn coral and angel fish as big as dinner plates. At Trunk Bay I watched massive clouds of shimmering silver fish, and glimpsed a great shark lurking below. At Xelh, I explored an underwater Mayan shrine. I have been stung by jellyfish and stabbed by sea urchins. At Cabo San Lucas, a pelican, annoyed at my intrusion, floated a few inches from my head staring me down. I once took a business trip to Honolulu and snuck out from work one day to snorkel in Hanauma Bay, overcrowded but not overrated. The ocean off Waikiki is lifeless, but I swam out anyway to watch the sun rise. At a bay in the Andaman Sea, I saw enormous, menacing jellyfish - Portuguese men-of war? At Bora Bora it rained. How odd feeling the sky water tapping on my self already saturated with sea water. I seldom feed the fish, but when I do I buy nutritionally balanced, organic fish food. Human-acclimated fish turn their noses up at it, preferring more exotic treats - frozen peas and cheese marshmallows. Only once, at a remote Na Pali beach, did the fish consider my fishy health food as a gourmet delight. Fish are not esthetes; they find a rusty pile of junk as fine a home as the most intricate coral garden. Nature rules the ocean and does not allow me any illusion of mastery. The sea almost got the better of me one day. Snorkeling at Isla Margarita, the waves became more and more intense, buffeting me about, draining my strength into the vast oceanic reservoir. I struggled back through the surf and crawled onto the sand, a land creature once again. But the next day, the next island, I was back in the water again.
I snorkel. I snorkel. I used to be an engineer, connecting dots. I did not reject engineering, engineering rejected me. Then I became a not-engineer, a not-anybody. But now I snorkel.

I snorkel. I even invented a snorkeling meditation. I float with the rhythm of the waves through exquisite coral grottos with myriads of wondrous fish. Shafts of sunlight flush the water with radiance. I dive down to see what is beneath the surface. The coral becomes a massive cavern and the fish larger, mid-ocean fish. I continue to dive until I reach the depths of the ocean. Neither sun nor moonlight penetrates here, undisturbed even by the rhythm of the tides. I drift, completely serene, through the darkness past strange phosphorescent creatures. But wait, my snorkel is not that long! I am back in the realms of light, splashing with porpoises. A Humpback whale and her newborn calf dive beneath, curious. Another human approaches - the clownfish of the sea - white T-shirt billowing, pink frog fins thrashing, no hydrodynamics here. The coral continue to build their undulating palaces, unwitting engineers. Iridescent blue-lipped clams gape at me; in every crevice black velvet sea urchins stake their claim. A kelp forest shelters darting fish, and manta rays buzz the ocean floor. The ocean nurtures abundance and I am one of abundance. I snorkel.

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