There are times in your life where you’re faced with the possibility of doing something completely uncharacteristic of your usual style. You know you want to, you just don’t know if you can, and it is that element of doubt that builds anticipation and creates this gigantic bubble of excitement in your belly which grows and wobbles and keeps you on your toes till you just do the thing you wanted to, which is when it bursts and catapults you straight onto Cloud 9, because hey, you DID IT!
I felt this way about jumping into the vast magnificence of the ocean, when I had my date with the Great Barrier Reef (an underwater date, y’guys!!) Added to all the nervousness that comes with going on a date, I have an irrational fear of not being able to feel the ground under my feet (nope, no idea why, I can’t do handstands either). So here I was on this lovely cruise headed straight to the middle of the Ocean, where we could swim among some of the most beautiful outer reefs on that gorgeous, sunny day, battling a sudden case of nerves that had manifest in my stomach.
The ocean is a thing of beautiful deception. Gorgeous blues and greens create a magical pattern on the surface, all those shades meeting the blue of the sky and forming nothing short of a painting. The sunlight winking off the light ripples hypnotises you, and you’re enveloped in a sense of utter calm and joy. The trick to knowing where the reefs are is to observe the colour of the water. The clear, azure blue transforms into a vibrant turquoise veering towards green, where the waves get smaller, sharper, and foamier and THAT’S where those gorgeous corals are hiding JUST out of sight.
And that’s where you jump in.
It’s a sensory assault. Prepare to leave all human sense and sensation behind, because once you’ve vanished under that deceptive blue surface, it’s nothing like anything you’ve seen in your life. We humans are so used to the land we walk on and the air we breathe, it’s easy to forget there is a whole other universe existing just below our feet, where we’re complete aliens to the natural residents. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve read about it before going, or seen photos and videos, nothing can really prepare you for the sight that awaits you down there. You jump in, and time slows down. The roaring silence of the sea engulfs you. Shafts of sunlight slant across the underwater world, bringing out the vibrant colour of the life underneath. Yes, that fish did swim across from you within touching distance. Don’t touch it. Yes, those are the very same anemones you saw in Finding Nemo. And YES, that is a GIANT BRAIN REEF staring you right in the face. Welcome to a new world.
I can go on and on about how beautiful and breathtaking it is, but I’ll leave this out here for you to see for yourself.
Diving into the clear blues and greens of the ocean and discovering a brand new world, a whole other life, has been my closest brush with spirituality so far. There’s no other way to describe it.
Once I got over the initial awe, I started having a hell lot of fun! I found Nemo (yay!) and I think I was the only one on that cruise who did. I saw a shark as well (they stay out of your way) and chased it as much as I could to get a half-decent snap. The reefs are colourful and beautiful and ALIVE, with their vibrant oranges and pinks looking oh-so-stunning against the blues and greens of the ocean. It’s mesmerising, the way little fish flit in and out through anemones and the reefs, perfectly comfortable in their home, unbeknownst as to the awe-inspiring effect it has on us.
Go, you guys. Go and experience this. It’s once in a lifetime. But if you DO go, be responsible about it. Don’t throw your shit in the water. Don’t throw up in the water. And DO NOT touch the reefs OR the marine life, simple reason being the reefs grow about an inch a year, so a single touch can end up destroying decades of growth. You don’t want to be responsible for that when the reef is already dying (sad truth, blame global warming). And don’t touch the marine life because, well, how would you like it if someone entered your home and began feeling you up? Not so much right?
That being said, take a break from a life you’re used to and swim with the fish for a while. I promise you, you will leave a piece of yourself behind, just like I have.