Of Happiness and Sharks
There is a famous quote by Ernest Hemingway that goes, “happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” I read these words as a naïve, impressionable child and wore them as a badge of honor for most of my life. I was okay with my angst and depression because, as implied, it meant I was intelligent. Happiness was a drug. Fleeting, addicting, and in no way natural.
Years later, after a series of failed relationships (both romantic and not), a semi-useless college degree, and a lack of heading in life - I realized I did not want to be intelligent anymore. My curiosity had cursed me. I was decidedly done questioning reality and researching any matter of interest. I just wanted to be happy. So, I stopped being curious, quit asking questions and let life move forward.
I lost all inspiration.
I forgot who I was.
Then one day, diving along the jagged edges of some coral reef, everything changed.
I observed a reef shark charge at two black groupers just beneath me. One held its ground and the other bolted.
The shark attacked the coward.
The lucky fish out maneuvered the predator which then turned back to the first grouper who had not even flinched.
In complete awe, I watched as this grouper swam and rubbed its body along the shark’s back. Like lightning shattering a bulb, I was struck by the realization that nothing in life is mutually exclusive. Friend and predator. Prey and enemy.
Dark and light are not mutually exclusive. We choose our paths.
I surfaced and took a breath for the first time as a completely different human being. Sitting on the bow of my father’s boat I decided I would from that point forward see the positive in every aspect of the universe.
It seems like a simple thing to do. We have all seen the motivational figures and pages profess: “choose happiness!”
But what does that mean? With a world so full of darkness, how can I be light?
Let me say it again: The two are not mutually exclusive.
To know happiness, you must know sadness. We must be thankful for the moments of despair in our lives for teaching us to rejoice in times of prosperity. We should be grateful to our enemies for pointing out the resiliency in ourselves.
Now I want to inspire people to find their lightning strike. I want to teach people how to stay fascinated with the world, the amazing feeling of trying new things, and even how heartbreak can be a gift for everything you can learn from it. My photos are so near and dear to me – not because of their colors or how many likes they get – but because they are portals to these rainbow-burst moments of when I was somewhere I belonged; that my heart lead me to. They are proof that I can go to the same place, same reef, same bars – live in the same city my whole life – and still be completely fascinated by how beautiful the world is and how blessed we are to be a part of it. This strike of lightening could not have happened without nature - without exploration. Once you find your bolt you will want to inspire others too. This is how embark on the long journey of building a better world.
So please, go find your hidden pathways and secret spots. Explore this life. Illuminate every darkness.