Diving, and the Depths of Thought

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Before I started diving, I yearned for a special place with an amazing view reachable only by a chosen few: the top of Everest, or a view of Earth from a porthole of a space shuttle. However, from the first moment I put on a mask and a pair of fins, swam as far as the reef and saw the marine habitat, fish and colourful corals, I knew that I had found the perfect place. It was like my soul had finally found peace, a place where I could recharge my batteries after long periods of daily routine.

I am surrounded by salt water, sunrays seeping through the water to reach my skin and brush my face delicately. A marine habitat is a microcosm of life itself. From light, the first member of the food chain, coming from far far away in space, transforming into energy and reaching the last members of that chain, the great predators, I think there is something extraordinary in how living beings are locked together in this underwater world. I can observe the perfection of things; I can admire the fixed pattern of the Pomancathus Imperator which repeats those yellow and blue stripes in each individual, in perfection and in eternity.

I have spent a great part of my life searching for perfection, believing that it would give me more happiness and, as a result of all those efforts, that I would become content: the perfect dress for the end of the year party; the best hotel; to be the first in my peer-group. There are times when I started thinking there must be something wrong in general, because I still was not happy.

But I was missing something obvious in my life. When I am immersed in that marine habitat, I understand that happiness failed to show up because I had forgotten to stop for a minute and observe the life around me. When I dive amongst the beauty of corals and fish, it is so perfect that it follows a logic, the Fibonacci sequence. Witnessing this fixed logic, imprinted into nature before human beings traced the first step on soil, is an intensely grounding experience. It constantly renews its assurance that nature is astonishing, and that I am part of it.

The marine world taught me that it is not important to possess great things, or to have access to the most exclusive places to feel fulfilled. The place where I feel perfectly content is not unique or unreachable, but enables me to satisfy my inner yearning to access those parts of my thoughts that would remain hidden if I did not visit that place, those parts that allow me to give a meaning to my life. It reminds me to re-appreciate simple aspects of life: the different shades of red or orange, different every time, in sunsets; or the smell of blooming flowers when spring approaches; or the line of ants carrying pieces of food bigger than their minuscule bodies on the way to reach their formicary. Now, when I have a goal in sight, I stop for a minute. I look around; I observe how a bee is flying from flower to flower. I make time for my friends, because an evening spent with good friends makes me feel complete. And I push forwards to my destination, and I reach pure contentment.

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