There is nothing that has been more constant in my life than my fascination with the ocean.
I grew up in a family that was relatively normal. But there was one difference. My parents owned an aquarium. Ok, it was more a pet shop, but it wasn’t. It was a pet shop that didn’t have your cats and dogs. We had birds and fish. But still, growing up with this in my life was one truly life shaping experince.
I realised this evening, and this is 45 years into my life, that I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have a fish tank. Even now, there is a 3ft tank right next to my bed — and I still look at it and wish I could get in there with them. Life under water is alien.
I’ve ended up living somewhere where I feel at home. I can wake up on any morning and go and dip my toes in the water. Sure, this time of year it’s a bit chilly, but the opportunity is there. At one end of my street I have a small beach on Sydney Harbour. At the other end, well, I have the Pacific Ocean. I’ve dived in both these waters and always felt that I was an awkward visitor to this bizarre world. The world that is part of our world, but is still unexplored by most people.
I’m lucky. I don’t take any of this for granted, and everytime I put my head under the water I have this feeling of adventure. It’s a feeling of exploration. I’ve dived and snorkled my beach thousands of times, and everytime it is different. Everytime I know there will be something new. I don’t get that same feeling above the water. Ever.
I’m not sure why I choose to write this tonight. But I think in part it was because I was thinking about how my Dad had a love for fish and aquariums. I have a lot of admiration for my Dad for nuturing this incredible part of my world. And I have a lot of admiraion for my mum, for putting up with Dad and his love of the ocean too. Our house, and under our house was a maze of glass tanks, humming filters and air pumps and UV lights. We brought a small part of that alien world into our home, and now try and visit their world as often as I can.