I have a goal in mind, a goal that has been brewing for several years now. Goals simmer in my brain for long stretches of time, and then I just do them.
When I was a child, I would read all the shark books at the library. Our county library had a great collection of individual shark books. Mako sharks, nurse sharks, thrasher sharks – I could tell you about shark attacks, shark teeth, shark eggs. This passion for dangerous fish waned as I grew older, replaced by a general interest in the ocean. My middle school health teacher convinced me I’d make a terrible marine biologist due to my chubby frame and home base in the Midwest, and because I trusted authority figures whole-heartedly I trusted him and put the ocean out of my mind. This was just before the internet, and in a small rural town – I lacked outlets and gumption. Oh, if only I were able to go back now and tell chubby little me to tell Mr. *** to suck on a rotten orange. It’d be worth the twenty punishment push-ups.
So I did other things with my life, but marine life has always been in my periphery. When the parents were stationed in Greece, I discovered SCUBA diving. It was magic. It was like being in a wall-less aquarium, with infinite possibilities (within safe dive depths, of course). Still, learning to dive was just a first step. I did not have the time in school, or the money in general, or access to locations (again) to pursue diving or the marine world in any meaningful way.
When I was in graduate school, I admired a photo in a National Geographic belonging to a friend. He gave me the page, which I thought was nice. The photo was of a whale shark, and the great fish was arched toward the surface. The sun was sort of above the creature – there might have been a diver in the shot – but both were in silhouette and the water was green – I can still see it. Looking at that photo, I sensed a check box forming in my mind.
For eight years this check box sort of fogged around my brain. It was a cool idea, which became a longing, a wish, a goal, a plan. Then, in 2014 I learned of a whale shark festival in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The check box solidified and refused to leave. It was now a decision. And once I reached decision, it was a matter of research and logistics.
Isla Mujeres, QR. Mexico. I am going to swim with the whale sharks.