Sunday, March 08, 2009
Pondering my insignificance
The Indian Ocean is beautiful.
Ellie's school is located across a (very busy) road from the beach, so I see the ocean every day when I drop her off and pick her up. Although the wind usually kicks up in the afternoons, the mornings are almost always calm and the sea is gorgeous and inviting. Last Friday as we made our way back to the car, we looked down to the water and observed dolphins swimming along fairly close to the shore. There was even a mother-calf pair. Watching them swim was such a peaceful, beautiful way to start the day!
Ever since I've started taking Ellie to school, the ocean has been calling me to swim. The water in front of her school is shallow and clear, and it runs along the Cottesloe reef. I've often seen snorkelers paddling along, looking at the sea grass and reef outcrops, and I have wanted to join them.
The trouble is I am deeply afraid of swimming in the ocean (or any body of water in which I cannot see well). I feel so exposed, so small, so insignificant...so not-the-top-of-the-food-chain. Ever since I was nine when we moved to Florida and I heard of a shark attack on a girl my age who was wading up to her knees collecting seashells, I have been afraid to swim in the ocean. More specifically, I am deathly afraid of sharks.
And this area does have sharks. There have been so many sightings this year (and a death) that several official ocean swim races have been cancelled.
But the sea has been calling to me. Every day it calls, and I know I will feel foolish when we leave this place if I do not answer the call from time to time, despite my fear. So this weekend, I took the plunge. Markus stayed home with Ellie while Stephanie napped, and I grabbed my snorkel gear and headed for that crystal clear shallow water.
When I came home again, dripping, elated and energized, Markus commented that I hadn't been gone very long. Maybe not, I told him, but I definitely got in some serious aerobic exercise: I was hyperventilating into my snorkel the entire time.
He laughed at me and then headed out for his turn in the water.
Upon his return, he gave me a very serious look and informed me that perhaps my hyperventilation was justified. Apparently, from the relative safety of the kayak, he observed a "quite large fin" that was "very triangular" and "definitely not a dolphin" moving along the Cottesloe reef near the area I chose to swim. Markus went on to assure me that it was pretty far out from the shore, so I would probably be just fine where I swim. Ha.
The sea is calling to me.
But from now on, it can leave a voicemail.