I remember sitting on the edge of the boat with my snorkel mask shoved to the top of my head, legs poised to go over, gaze locked on the shimmying forms of sharks beneath me in the transparent Caribbean water. Fear gripped me, paralyzed me. What had sounded like a good idea after a few rum punches back at the resort now felt incredibly stupid.
No way in hell was I going to do this...I mean, who would leave a perfectly sound boat to jump in with a bunch of sharks?
Doubts about my ability to 'handle' it thumped about in my brain. In seconds--literally heartbeats--all the reasons why I shouldn't leave the boat flashed through my mind. But then my husband--always the one to push me out of my comfort zone--literally pushed me off the boat.
In the water, I forgot all about being afraid. All I could do was marvel at the swaying forms of the sharks as they slid ahead of us and around us--completely disinterested in what we were doing. I followed them, forgetting about being in the wide open ocean where the nurse sharks' nastier and much larger cousins could be lurking in the dark.
Mesmerized, I followed them, reached out, hoped for a touch, kicked harder trying to go deeper, get closer...but they eluded me.
What I'd been afraid of now entertained me on a soul level. An explorer in another world, my previous concerns long gone, that racing heartbeat now accelerated from bliss rather than terror, and I consciously transformed in those minutes swimming with sharks.
The experience stays with me today. In fact, I've adopted the shark as a metaphor for the new me. Relentless. Elusive. Survivor.
Why would I do such a thing? Sharks are ugly, you say. No, I say. Sharks are stunning and more beautiful than you can ever imagine--and their beauty runs deep beneath the scars you see on the surface of their skin. A shark is in constant motion, always swimming, surviving. A shark possess grace, intelligence, fearlessness, energy, confidence and power. They're magnificent.
I'm in a phase of my life where I've survived a lot by constantly moving forward, refusing to stop because I knew I'd drown in despair if I did, unwilling to quit fighting because I've had a dream worth going to the mattresses for, and unable to give up because I've had a household and family to support solo. I've embraced my inner shark.
I'm growing in bold and thrilling ways that often surprise me. During the challenges of the past several years, when I felt alone, afraid, clueless as to what to do next, and wondered where I'd get the strength to go on one more day, I'd say to myself, "Amber, you swam with sharks. You can DO this!"
And I did. I plunged through the fear, into the unknown, have accumulated more than my share of scars, but I'm still moving forward. I'm still swimming.
I remember how afraid I'd been of the unknown--can visualize the moment on the edge of that boat as if it were happening right now. But I also remember plunging into the water, feeling the warm Caribbean embrace my body, hear my breath in my ears, and see the sharks swaying just out of reach. I remember coming up for breath and laughing with pure joy, exhilaration surging through my veins with the vibrancy of life itself.
We can all experience that feeling of triumph if we start recognizing how often we've conquered our fears. Even small ones that may come whispering to us in the night...every time we get up and do what we need to do anyway, we win.
Yes, I remember looking down at their bodies sha-shaying just beneath the surface of the water and being gripped by fear; but, more importantly, I remind myself how I didn't remember the fear at all once I'd taken the plunge. Life is like that, isn't it? Once you're immersed on the other side of fear, it's hard to remember why you were afraid.
Is there something that you want to do but fear is undermining you? Remember the sharks...and take the plunge.
Wishing you all green lights and easy days...
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.