anemone, soft coral

Coral beds can scratch and cut, and yet we jump in, all in the name of pursuing beauty with a breathing tube and googles.  And then there are the soft corals, undulating softly in the aqua waters.

My husband was working at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center in the late winter of 1982, and I joined him on my ‘spring’ break.  After the gloom of Ohio’s grayness, Hawaii seemed surreal with its brilliant colors. The outing that stays in memory was an afternoon spent on a white sand beach, filled with families, both local and touring.  The abundance of whimsical striped and polka-dotted fishes, the coral bed hues of turquoise, pink and purple, astonished my Midwestern sensibility for the subdued, as this vast reef was anything but!

Fast-forward (a dated reference to the tape cassette, you younger readers) to 2015.  Mike and I vacationed in Hawaii for two glorious weeks with my brother Greg, sister-in-law Colleen, nieces Kenzie and Maddie, nephew Grant, and several of Colleen’s cousins. Snorkeling was a popular past-time and multiple beaches were visited for the purpose. Vibrant color and abundant life were found daily in the joy of being with my nieces and nephew, but alas, vibrance was not to be found in the coral beds.

This was disturbing.  Everywhere we went, the beds were gray, covered in a white-ish film that resembled yeast or a coated tongue.  Reading about the world’s dying coral reefs is one thing, snorkeling among them is alarming.  The corals, living creatures, are dying, their lost beauty a ‘canary-in-the-coal-mine’ reminder of what is happening to the planet’s eco-systems.

We live within the element of air, in the same way as the splendid creatures of the ocean live in their element of water.  Can we be as the elegant anemone pictured in this post, supple and responsive to water, as we can be to air and gravity?  Let us learn from these soft and beautiful creatures while they still live.  Give yourself the gift of the word ‘soften.’  Just a word.  So simple.  So priceless.