What the Ocean Taught Me in Fiji

Fear is to be conquered and most importantly understood.

As I reflect back, many times in my life I allowed my worry to win – it was a poor choice.  The sheer anticipation of various threats frequently seemed to trump my submerged bravery.  These cowardly acts made me cringe and penalize myself each time.

A family trip to Fiji with my two teenage boys impelled me to venture into my abyss of anxiety.  A long overdue time to reflect and understand my consternation with the deep-sea.  My curiosity and cerebral mental states were relentlessly battling for years, along with my maternal instincts to not project my dread of the underwater utopia onto my children.  It was this mental turbulence that shifted my desire to dive deeper into the unknown and into my fears of the ocean.

My children reminded me, when we arrived at this island paradise, of my continued goals to “meet” uncertainties, and address them while remembering our mental strength is far superior to our fears.  Oh, how they turned that on me!  They scheduled us for a family dive the next morning.  This was not in the parental manual, my children using my life guidance on me!

That evening, peering out into this continuous body of water which surrounds most of the earth’s surface, I longed for comfort.  It was here, I silenced my thoughts and sensed the heart of this vast expansion of blue and uninterrupted horizon “whispering” the following into my soul as I drifted off to sleep with trepidation for the following day.

You recognize your life is similar to my existence.

We both live in a vast world that stretches to boundless spheres.

We have no limits.

We each have waves crashing into our shorelines each day.  Some varying in size and shape.  Their strength often bruising or flattening our psyche.

We both have been taken advantage of and polluted in many ways.

Our force can never be taken away, only we can diminish our current.


It was important that my response be mindful and genuine. This was a unique opportunity for me to share my innermost introspections….with an ocean?

As long as I remember, my infatuation with you has left me speechless.

You have always provided peace to my innermost being, despite all the commotion of whitewash around me and my unease with you.

I have been enamored with your storminess and stillness which contradict each other.

I have been fearful of you for so long.


Dear friend, never fear me, just understand me.  You will be a welcome visitor tomorrow.


As the morning sun beamed through the bleached plantation shutters, I felt an unfamiliar calm despite not knowing what lay ahead.   The high spirits of my children were nothing less than contagious, there was something inside me that encouraged me to go further, go dive.  The experience was nothing short of empowering.  Submerging into the unknown was adrenaline-charged and I felt a freedom that I never felt before.  I had entered a new world, physically and mentally.  The experience was magical, feeling eerily alone even though I never lost grasp of the dive master’s hand!  We returned to shore, the children reveling in my effort.

Watching the sun disappear into the skyline that evening, I listened to the waves whirl along the water’s edge, took a sip of wine, and reclined in my weathered hammock.  As I closed my eyes before dinner and silenced my thoughts, there it was again.  The heart and verse of this vast expansion of blue, a familiar and faint voice entering my soul listening intently.

I entered your world today, although it scared me.  I trained myself and adapted my thinking to take part in this underwater playground you graciously offer.

It is your exhilarating environment, a habitat for many that makes me marvel at your mystery.

Fearing the strength of your tides and where they may have taken me gave me great eagerness and curiosity to continue our underwater dance of discovery.  To not panic in your presence but understand you.

I have always respected you and now I am committed to our new connection.


Oh dear friend, you are an enigma as well.


As I dove into your depths of darkness, my feelings and flights of imagination began to soar.  With my adrenaline flowing, there was a realization that I would survive in this unknown yet natural place you rule over.

Remembering to maintain a calm presence of mind in your remote and uncharted waters was vital.

You befriended me while the currents changed and shifted before my eyes.

Realizing your turn of tidal motions could devour me and I might effortlessly be lost at sea was a nightmare for me.  No longer will this anxiety preclude me from encountering your true natural beauty.

My ability to swim was always there.  I forgot to move, react, and take action to eliminate my distress and discomfort – to not drown in your mighty wonderland.

As I regained my composure and my consciousness coming to the surface from your core, a lifeboat was visible.

I recall how out of proportion this floating device looked against you – this immeasurable body of blue bliss.  Your expanse waters enveloping this pint-sized dinghy.

As this boat of bravery approached to hoist and heave me up from my aversion to your choppy waters, a profound point of you and what you embody erupted within my mind.

There was never a lifeboat.


Oh dear friend, you finally realized our interconnected essence. I was hopeful you would overcome this sense of sorrow towards me and be free to float within my levels of serenity.


It was you, Ocean who reminded me of the resilience that resides deep within my soul wanting to be activated and waiting to help.

At that moment, you helped me not hindered me with your turbulent waters.

I understood that I was bigger than my fears of you all along.

As magnificent, majestic, complicated, and chaotic as my existence can be, only I can allow you or my life to swallow me up.

I have always been my own trifecta of support: lifeguard, lifeboat and rescue team.  All the training has been programmed innately within me, waiting to be set in motion for all types of stormy conditions that may occur.

My sincere apologies for restricting myself from you.

Allowing the false evidence that appeared real within my mind to suffocate and silence me was a latitudinous lapse in judgment.

I am here.

Bold and brave. Beacon beaming bright.

When our sun sets together, allow me to skip and dance with you in your purple and pink hues into the darkness, into your undisturbed and unending horizon.

Thank you for teaching me how kindred we are.

As the sun skittered along its surface, the Ocean blinked at me with a shimmery glitter.


Oh dear friend, always remember – together we are infinite!

Sitting together at dinner moments later, my two teenage boys retold stories of our underwater diving adventures.  Their amusement and bantering about our experiences together made my heart and soul smile. Poking fun at the fact, I held the hand of our master diver the entire time, or how I screamed when the sea snake swam under the boat prior to my jumping in.   Or when I asked what happens if I vomit underwater.  If this is what conquering a fear looks like, I am equipped for future frights.

After our dessert plates were cleared and the snickering waned, my earlier surge of emotions erupted again.  Exhilaration, enlightenment and harmony – they all will reside within me permanently.  I have decided this newfound understanding and the courage to conquer fears is life altering.  I was determined to not allow my mental turmoil with all its distractions and detours keep me from this unique experience with myself, my children and the ocean.

The next day, I was back on the dive boat embarrassing my teenage children again – holding the hand of our dive master for the second time.


First Published at Life As A Human:  http://lifeasahuman.com/2015/mind-spirit/what-the-ocean-taught-me/

© 2015 Shannon Hogan Cohen

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