The Sponge

Michael - Orono, Minnesota
Entered on February 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: nature, sports
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Two more leg kicks and I left the cave hovering over dark blue water that faded into five thousand feet of nothingness above the ocean floor. Above me were one hundred feet of sunlit-water. I was thirteen, a bit frightened (by heights under water), and consumed by incredible beauty and wonderment while floating in an enjoyable silence. In the many dives since that first cave dive, I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to visit the deep and have grown to cherish the beauty of simple things living in harmony with their surroundings.

Three weeks after my thirteenth birthday I earned my scuba license. Licensing required completing a study course and several open-water certification dives. My scuba certification provided an early boost of confidence as I temporarily stepped into the adult world as a young teen. My first real dive was off a coral wall in the Caribbean Sea known as Japanese Gardens. My air tank had three thousand pounds of pressure. My waist belt was saddled with ten pounds of anchor weight. I completed an on-board pre-dive check with my dive buddy and took a giant stride into warm, blue waters. As I slowly descended I equalized the pressure in my ears at five feet, ten feet, fifteen feet and every five thereafter. As you look down you realize the entire structure below is a massive life form. I entered the cave at forty feet and worked my way to the other end at ninety feet below the surface. As I neared the cave exit, I floated by a beautiful, lightly constructed, tube sponge with six, two-foot long tubes, each a magnificent pink in color. I used my controls to carefully maneuver around the sponge to ensure I left it untouched. My dive master urged me to protect the coral, some of which can be over two hundred years old and easily damaged by human contact. One develops a gentle respectfulness for the world around you and your place in it when faced with such beauty and fragility.

The sponge also offered shelter and food to tiny neon fish in and around the tubes. In the underwater world, it is easier to see simple harmony between life and the surroundings. I leg-kicked to exit the cave and was startled by a sense of extreme height as I floated five thousand feet above the ocean floor. It’s a strange feeling to be frightened while in a completely silent state, full of emotions and no one to speak to.

As a thirteen-year-old, I jumped into diving to swim with the fish. Five years later, I realized how diving provided me an early confidence boost for the adult world. More importantly, my underwater adventures made me keenly aware of beauty in simple things living in harmony. My favorite pink tube sponge was simple in its beauty, harmonious with its watery environment while providing tiny neon fish food and protection. The deep blue sea is a wondrous world of beauty living in harmony.