Nature and Magic

As a traveler in today’s “see it to believe it” world, and as a blogger who wants you to consider visiting this URL again, I really really want to show you a picture of one of the absolute coolest things I have ever experienced in nature. Ready?

Mermaid Stuff.

That’s a picture of me swimming in the phosphorescent bay in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. This bay is populated by bioluminescent dinoflagellates (plankton, basically) that light up when disturbed, and it creates this totally enchanting landscape.

Truth be told, it’s actually a picture of me learning an important lesson about being present. I desperately wanted to capture the magic of the water glowing around me with every movement…the sweeping radiance of the sea in my hair, the sparkles on my skin, the glowing trail left as I dove as far down as I could, and especially the way Sean’s beard lit up and then faded as the water drained from it. Maybe if I had a specialized long-exposure camera and the absolute ideal conditions I could have, but I soon realized that an iPhone camera and a GoPro weren’t going to be able to capture the light, even in the pitch black water on a moonless night. All of my images were like the one above—total darkness with zero trace of the glow around me. I was left with no choice but to experience it the way it was created: fully present in the moment, with no technical difficulties or re-shoots. Just me, in this microcosm of all of science and creation, in awe of the beauty of the world I get to live in.

I found myself overcome with emotion at all of it—tears in my eyes, giggling with excitement and trading “Watch this!” tricks with the others in the water. We did cannon balls off the top deck of the boat, dove down as far as our ears could take, sliced and chopped at the water, and generally pretended to be mermaids. I knew our time was coming to a close, so I floated on my back and stared up at the stars that mimicked those in the water beneath me, trying to memorize every detail of the encounter.

Some experiences in life simply defy description, and for me this was one of them.