“How much will it hurt if someone gets bitten by one of these sharks?” I ask one of our shark experts.
“It would just feel like a lot of pressure–it wouldn’t be “painful” really. But people have to worry for infection after getting bitten by a shark.”
“How likely is it that one of us will get bitten?”
I continue quizzing our instructors for a bit, with a smile on my face. Part of me is joking around, and the other part of me is serious. I mean–I am about to jump into a tank full of sharks!
But the truth is–I am not scared at all. A lot of people ask me how I feel before I dive into the more extreme activities–and honestly–I feel fine. It’s the more intimate–1 on 1’s that get me.
To me, jumping out of a plane (as I am doing this coming weekend–pending hurricane Sandy doesn’t destroy my plans), or swimming with sharks–is much easier than sitting down–or standing with a good friend and taking a lesson. I am much more intimidated by the talent driven hobbies than I am by the thrill seeking ones. At first this may seem surprising, but because the number one fear in the world–over dying–is public speaking, I get it.
As humans, we want to be accepted, we don’t want to be judged poorly, and we want to succeed at everything we try–I know I do. But if there’s anything this project has taught me–it’s that the only person judging us most times–is oneself.
At this current moment, with sharks swimming below me–I really just can’t wait to jump in.
I pull on my wetsuit, throw on my snorkel, and wait for my cue to duck underwater and take a look. When I finally do, I am amazed. I can see sharks swimming in the distance. And then I spot one swimming our way. He looks like he’s smiling. I laugh to myself. The laughter causes a small leak in my mouth piece, so I surface momentarily–causing me to laugh at myself again. I readjust and reenter the water. A fish flashes across my face–and then another one. And then from the side I see a shark with a nose shaped like a saw swimming toward our way. He’s waving his serrated edges back and forth as if he knows food is near. Our instructors pull us back until the shark is out of harm’s way.
We go back below. A shark comes toward me, and I imagine speaking to it.
“Hello Mr. Shark.” I quote Little Red Riding Hood, “How big your teeth are, Mr. Shark”
“All the better to eat you with, my dear.”
I laugh to myself, this time keeping my mouth on my snorkel. “Good thing sharks can’t really talk–and good thing this isn’t the rising action in a fairytale.”
But it is–it’s the rising action in my project–or what we should just refer to as my life.
I sit back in the shark tank and continue to take in the view. I ask myself how I got here–in a tank full of sharks.
“Easily,” I answer. “All I had to do was say yes.”
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, New Jersey