As a child I used to go for walks and bike rides to the places I wasn’t allowed to go. We always assume that we will be safer around other people, and if anything should happen then we would have a helping hand not too far away. But I always felt safer alone, in a place where life would go on the same without me.
I used to play in the woods, and walk down the abandoned railway tracks, looking for berries or just looking for beauty. I loved to hear the crunch of autumn leaves and smell the dampness on the bottom of tree trunks, where the fungi would grow and the bark would feel so mushy. I loved to watch the squirrels slowly approaching, uncertain if they could trust me or not, until I stayed so still and breathed so shallow that they would suddenly not see me anymore. I realised back then that I loved the natural world just the way it was, but that there seemed to only be small patches of it, here and there, and the trails had already been walked by so many others.
“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, flitting in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder, am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man.” – Zhuangzi
Have you ever had that dream, the one where you are on the top of a mountain and you take a deep breath, bend your knees, and float into the sky weightlessly? I would fly every night in my dreams, so vividly, that eventually I could close my eyes whilst sitting at my desk in class and feel the earth dropping away from underneath my feet. I was always a great ‘imaginator’, as I like to call it, and as everyone else calls a dreamer, which doesn’t sound as efficacious to me. Head in the clouds was always much more enjoyable than head on my shoulders. I had high expectations for my life, but I never really knew for sure what those expectations were until I discovered diving.
“The most single revelatory three minutes for me was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. It’s just the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions.” – David Attenborough
I am sure my story is not one-in-a-million, and that is one of the great things, that we can share this together. I am in such a privileged position now to be able to live out my imagination, and my dreams, and help others do the same. Aside from teaching scuba diving courses, I am living in one of the few diving destinations that hasn’t been fully explored below recreational depths; and since the waters of Bunaken National Park is estimated to go as deep as 1,600m below sea level, I am sure that the iceberg of the park will never be seen by the human eye. Regardless, both of mine will be wide open for the first time in my life. And I know I will see something.