This I Believe

Andrea - Inverness, Illinois
Entered on May 18, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

The ocean is my passion; it has been ever since I was five years old. Only six years ago, I became certified to scuba dive and experience the vast seas for myself. During spring break this year, I was diving in Grand Cayman. While my group was on the second dive of the day, I noticed a bland, pale stalk of soft coral. The cluster seemed ugly compared to the vibrant pinks, oranges, and purples on the surrounding reef. But as I swam closer, I noticed a tiny fish about one inch long colored in the same off-white of the coral. He just hovered upside down with his tail pointing towards the surface. The little guy was probably hiding from predators and unaware of my presence. I was amazed that such a simple fish could amuse me and cause my mind to replay the instant I discovered him over and over again.

Although I still don’t know what kind of miniature species this was, I do know that in a single moment, I understood that I lived for all the living wonders of this world. I lived for the tiny fish in front of my dive mask; for the large reef shark cruising somewhere in the distance; for the birds and land animals hundreds of miles away; for the other divers leaving me behind to examine my fish.

As I hurried to catch up with them, I remembered that I was carrying a camera, and immediately I regretted not snapping a quick picture. But the more I think about it now, the more I realize that a photograph would have ruined the unique moment presented. To observe that tiny fish in all of the reef system is improbable, and yet I wonder why he appeared to me in such a huge way. After coming in contact with him, I believe that we, as humans, continue to exist for every species of plant and animal, as well as every person, stranger or not.

When we commit suicide, we tell all creatures that life is not worth living for them. We tarnish each butterfly and tree each time we take our own lives. By surviving, we express a curiosity in existence. The progression and success of the human race depends on our interest in the surrounding world. Without this inquiring characteristic of ours, the discoveries of medicine, energy, culture, and technology would not be as advanced as it is today.

I believe that our understanding of the natural world is essential to the survival of both humans and other living organisms, and that it is my responsibility to learning about and experiencing the wilderness of our world. Of all the marine life I’ve seen while diving, that little fish astounds me most; maybe it’s the way I came and left undetected, or maybe its because we don’t take the time to examine our world in detail, we only see the big picture revolving around us.