20 Apr Through the Lens
I felt nauseated staring down through the choppy surface into the turquoise water column. For many of us, the idea of exploring the ocean might sound like something we are capable of, however grand ideas tend to feel more doable in the safety blanket of our minds than in actual reality. So, when push came to shove, an internal conflict began to brew within me.
My nerves were obvious to the others around me. I made special requests of my guide and quietly of the sea. I had an awful fear of sharks because of the movie Jaws. I know it’s cliché, because no matter how far I travel, I meet others like my previous self who are terrified of those triangular teeth.
Despite my earlier pleas, perhaps it was fortunate to have met a white-tip reef shark on my first ocean dive. While turning back for the boat was front of mind, my underwater tour guide clutched me tight as if to form a temporary appendage. He clearly had other plans. Adamantly shifting my head from side to side, he pulled his hand, still clutched to mine, and made an unmistakable please sign.
How could I refuse?
As we slowly made our way closer, still 75 feet or so away, the sleek silver frame bolted for the abyss. It was baffling to see that this prehistoric creature and I were of quite the same mind. After snapping a photo of the departing fish, we went on to explore a wee part of our planet’s greatest barrier reef.
While I didn’t fully appreciate it in those early days of diving, my camera had become a safety blanket in many ways. It distracted me from my imagination, but never from the safety aspects of diving. Over time I grew increasingly comfortable with the sea and yearned to encounter more sharks, and of course, photograph them.
Behind a camera, I had found a place where I could relax and be one with the ocean. There was a lot of personal growth that transpired in the ocean. Through the years, my fears and apprehensions have shrunk while the sharks and cameras have grown.
The way we see the world is very dependent on the lens through which we view it—mine just so happened to be a literal lens.
Images and text © Joanna Lentini