Hola, amigos. This is—to the best of my knowledge—the fourth post of my (typically) impromptu series of “Let’s Talk About X,” in which (as always) I shall proceed to ramble incoherently about whatever topic I feel like talking about. And today, I’m going to talk about water. Yes, water.
No, I’m not going to sit here and talk about H2O, people. My chemistry knowledge is severely lacking, despite my having taken a chemistry course a few years ago, and my passion for most sciences is on the same level as my passion for okra (which, for those of you who do not know, is not at all.) You see, while some people find anacondas or staplers or knives terrifying, there’s something that, to me, is much darker than any of those: the ocean.
Trillions and trillions of gallons of several miles deep salt water that go on for millions of cubic miles—it’s absolutely terrifying. It’s the home to countless of species that range from the microscopic to the gigantic. As a human, we see a sperm whale, which is so much more immense than we are, and we feel cowed in its presence. But…that whale, in the great expanse of sea, is nothing more than a mere speck—it’s hardly anything at all. It’s one thing looking at a mountain range or being in the middle of a thunderstorm. That alone can bring out our insignificance. But there’s nothing, and I really mean nothing, that so blatantly lays out the fact that we’re absolutely nothing. A swim at the beach normally goes a few hundred yards at the most—that’s nothing. It’s just skimming the barest edge. Our weakness, our tininess, our selves are put into perspective, if it can even be called that, when we find ourselves in the great mystery called the ocean.
What’s even stranger is that, as I read once, the ocean isn’t really an enemy. It just has no interest in us. It’s apathetic. It gives us food. It gives us oxygen. That’s all. But if we’re not smart, it kills us. It doesn’t care. It’s just how it goes. We don’t belong there, and if we wind up being careless, it just might be the last mistake we make. The ocean has gone on for so long before us, and it will continue to go on after us, not caring. It exists, and that’s enough. If we get in its way, it’s our problem.
And that’s only on the surface, what one can just see when he’s flying over the Atlantic Ocean one day, realizing how infinitesimal he is. But there’s a whole other feeling when you’re actually up close and in the ocean.
I suppose that I should give an example to help illustrate my point. About a year ago, when I was in the Caribbean, which is where I’m from, I went on a trip with a group of friends. We took a boat ride to this deserted island called Klein Bonaire, where tourists often go to spend the day. Anyways, while the girls were busy lying in the sun, I went out with a couple of guys to see how far out we could go. So off we went, swimming lazily and talking, diving down under the water to see how deep it was, and so forth. Soon the sand was ten feet from me. Then twenty. Thirty. Colorful fish darted by rapidly, ignoring their unwelcome guests as they went around their daily work. Then, as I was under the water, I looked ahead of me and saw something I never forgot.
Up until then, the water was a clear aquamarine blue. I could see straight to the bottom of the ocean floor without any difficulty. In fact, it was so clear I could see hundreds of feet behind me. But straight in front of me was a deep, dark wall of blue that loomed up at me like a giant mouth, lazily yawning, waiting to swallow me. It was just…emptiness. It sounds silly, but it almost felt as though going into it would mean it was over. The void went up and down, and it felt as though there was nothing else but me and that great big wall of near-blackness. The water in front of me was so deep that I could see hardly anything, and it was then I really started to feel that gnawing sense of panic.
You see, it’s like this: you can know that you’re supposed to be afraid, but you don’t really get truly afraid until you acknowledge the fear. Once you admit to it, it’s ten times worse than just intuitively sensing the fear. It makes you want to flee as fast as you can, leaving you hopelessly terrified. Right then, when I saw that seemingly never-ending blackness, I didn’t really spend time contemplating on my weakness. I just knew. There’s a difference between knowing and acknowledging. One is innate, the other must be voluntary.
It’s easy for us to play the whole popularity game and try to matter, pushing aside that small fact that we really don’t. The whole business of mattering is very time-consuming. But none of us, from the famous movie director to the unassuming garbage man really matter in the eyes of the ocean.
In fact, we hardly matter at all.
Less than three,