The inspiration was the winter ocean in Miyakojima.
I had some time open up in my schedule, and I felt like treating myself to some ocean diving. The folks that I met while staying at a diving guest-house had told me that the ocean in winter at Miyakojima was the best. I am not the greatest swimmer, and to be honest I wasn't really that interested in diving. To go diving in the ocean at this time of year ... but for some reason, I felt called to go diving now.
Miyakojima has some distinguished diving spots that are the envy of divers the world over, so of course there are many diving shops that can handle last-minute arrangements. Obviously I had no previous knowledge, and was a complete novice, so at first I was nervous about opening myself to scuba diving. It took a pretty fair amount of courage to get started on an adventure that carried with it some risk, but the partner that I was going to take this adventure with was very reassuring, and it didn't take long for my trepidation to turn into anticipation of unknown territory.
This is not zero risk. Knowing is the first step.
Check the mask size. It's a perfect fit. Breathe in the air from the oxygen tank. Before going diving we practice thoroughly on land until we can breathe easily. I learned how to use an underwater camera, but I don't know if I can use much more than the zoom this time. People who are used to diving seem to have fun with macro photography and things like that, but this time at least I will leave the advanced functions alone.
As I go through each single process, I realize I am getting pumped up. There was a part of me that was feeling as if I could hardly wait to get underwater.
Go over the signals with the instructor. Carefully practice putting my face against the water holding a snorkel in my mouth. When I get used to breathing, I finally feel a connection to the sea. I saw a snake-eel making its way through while I was practicing and got shook up for an instant, and started gurgling, but the instructor laughed, "It won't attack you if you don't startle it." Looking at someone like her, who doesn't scare easily, I realized it is when we have a deep understanding of nature that we are able to get along well with other living creatures.
The magnificent world of the ocean relaxes the tension in my mind.
There are countless numbers of spectacular formations on land, but underwater, besides the wonder of the formations that nature has created there, the textured shadows of light and dark add contrast to the translucent blue. The light that comes pouring down shimmers softly like a silken curtain, wafting its faint light to the ocean floor like the ocean front on a moonlit night.
When humans dive in the ocean they experience a diving reflex, which makes the heart rate slow down in trying to protect the internal organs. My heart that had been pounding just a minute ago is now calm. This reflex also happens to other ocean-dwelling mammals, like whales, dolphins or sea otters. Here the sound of the waves of life are whispering directly to the five senses. The sound of your own breathing is calming and comforting, and everything is softened. Though your body understands the feeling of floating with nothing to cause disturbance, your mind cannot comprehend it. Maybe it doesn't have to. For now, it is all you can manage to do, to enjoy floating about in this macrocosm of inner space.
The vibrant life forms that surprise many divers.
Clownfish inside sea anemones. If you put your hand out they come swishing over, like they are ready to have a conversation. Passing by before your eyes are other vividly colored tropical fish like parrotfish and madder sea perch, plus the Okinawan national fish gurukun. Here I felt as if we humans were welcome, as just another member of the natural world.
Radiant colored coral reefs that I have only ever seen on TV or in magazines, shipwrecks that are now the nesting spots of fish, this extraordinary on-parade is slowly wreaking havoc with my common sense. That is how much impact this scenery has on the mind.
The luxury of time sharing the hidden treasures of the world.
They do not belong to any one person- they stay in everyone's heart.
At the same place, at the same time, looking at the same thing, they can talk about it too, which is why divers become friendly so quickly. Guests who come to Miyakojima on their own just to go diving go for about 20 dives a year. When I tell her that this is my first time diving, she says, "For your first time diving to be at Miyakojima, is really extravagant!" Though I don't yet realize it, I do feel like I have had a truly precious experience.
The scale of the scenery that comes flying toward me is so overwhelming, to try to describe the allure of the ocean after the first time diving, I don't feel confident that I can really do it justice, being underwater for a mere 30 minutes. But this much I can say. My idea of the magic of diving is primarily that underwater you can experience a world completely separate from the world on land. All the sea creatures you have never seen before, in this very moment you can feel their presence close enough to touch, and the time spent swimming through the mystical and beautiful world of the ocean was a wondrous sensation, just like being in a dream.
There are still a lot of diving spots in Miyakojima. Next year I want to get my skills better and enjoy the ocean even more. Then I want to become able to take really great pictures. That will give me one more reason to come back to Miyakojima.
Beautiful sea leaves nothing to be desired.
As for the picture they showed me at the end, if someone looked at it before they ever went diving, they might suspect that it was a fake, but underwater this kind of sweeping panorama opens out as if it were perfectly natural. I don't know exactly where the picture was taken, but my intuition, not my logic, is telling me that it is the same ocean as the ocean I was diving in today. So this is what they meant by the winter ocean in Miyakojima.
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