02 Mar 2014 Overcoming fear at the Great Barrier Reef,Australia
“Get in the water, woman! Get in the water!” No, I am not Allie, from The Notebook, being encouraged to jump into a modest, safe pond. I am Barbara Anne, and I was being encouraged to jump into the middle of the unknown, Pacific Ocean.
“What if there are sharks!” I wailed to my boyfriend, who was treading water nearby.
“Then I will save you,” he replied calmly with a grin.
“Now come on!”
As he dove underneath the surface of the water, I hesitated. On one hand, I was absolutely terrified of sharks; but on the other hand, when would I ever get the chance to dive in the Great Barrier Reef again? I held the snorkel mask to my face, and stuck my head under the water to see what was beneath me. I shrieked, and successfully swallowed enough salt water to forcefully come to the surface immediately, sounding like I had bronchitis, lung cancer, and asthma combined.
“What’s wrong!” Morgan, my boyfriend, replied, looking anxious.
Unable to keep the smile from escaping, I replied in excitement,“It’s so beautiful!” and dove right in.
Though the allurement of the reef persuaded me to jump into the water, I immediately felt fearful again. I spent the first ten minutes swimming in circles, constantly looking for dark, shadowy figures that could be lurking. I looked like I was trying to chase my flippers; unsuccessfully at that.
However, after ten minutes of no sharks appearing, my nerves began to wane, and my eyes finally opened to the true enchantment of the Great Barrier Reef. I had never seen such a multitude of vibrant colors; I wished that I had two pairs of eyes, so that I could see everything twice. I spotted fish and coral of every size, shape, and color, and all were absolutely remarkable. I followed a sea turtle around, pretending that I was a baby duck following my mother. I explored small crevices to find small fish seeking refuge in hiding places. I forgot about my phobia of sharks entirely, and gave my heart to the reef completely. For a rare three hours, I truly knew what it meant to live in the moment. Even more than that, I became the moment. I transformed into a part of the Great Barrier Reef, a living and breathing organism like everything else. I began to wonder if the creatures that I was seeing looked at me with the same sense of amazement. I wondered if they had fears, like me. I wondered what it was like to be able to swim in such an incredible and breathtaking place every day. The reef made me so curious. I decided that the animals I was seeing were quite lucky to live in such a wondrous place.
As the captain called us in, I swam back in a daze, hypnotized by the images I had seen that day. From the fascinating people I met, to the brilliant animals and coral I saw, to overcoming one of my largest fears, my day spent at the Great Barrier Reef was one I will never forget, nor regret.
About the Author: Barbara Anne Scheibel is a Childhood Education major at SUNY Oswego. I absolutely love traveling, children, and writing.
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