4 min read

Make Room To Follow The Fish

Make Room To Follow The Fish
Midjourney: "A mature, older, and larger puffer fish staring straight at the camera. Hyper realistic. National Geographic style. --ar 16:9"

I'm not sure who spotted each other first, but there was clearly mutual fascination from the outset. I was a stranger obsessed with learning about this new place: they were a local curious to learn about me. Our eyes locked after a few first glances, and a friendly staring contest ensued. I moved to my right, they floated that direction. I bobbed to my left, and they seemed to follow my lead.

A very old grandpa puffer fish and I were dancing 55 feet below the surface of Pelican Rock off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, and I was here for it.

This was my third time scuba diving in the past two years and it was my first time doing it purely for fun and not for my certification or for scientific research.

It has been one of my favorite new skills to learn. But one of the toughest as well. I have never been great at breathing. From chronic allergies and sleep apnea, taking deep breaths deep underwater frequently caused moments of stress that I had to learn to control to pass my scuba certifications. But each time I begin to drop in, I have to wrestle with those old patterns of breath control and adapt to the new world and way of breathing that it requires.

And that was precisely the kind of mental work that I was doing as my new friend first made its appearance.

Grandpa Puffer Fish (Pelican Rock - Cabo MX - 3/13/24)

I was just focused on my next breath when I experienced the serendipity and discovery I was told might happen. I was just owning what I could control, and in the process, something rare and unexpected swam my way.

I was in a situation that was testing my limits and forcing me to give up control of so many things I normally would be trying to manage and zhuzh, but when all I could do was take the next breath, I was having a moment of actual stillness that was rewarded.

As my new friend started to swim off, I followed it for a moment longer before it disappeared around a coral wall.

The entire interaction was less than a minute of my 40 minute dive, but it was the rare moment where you know you are having a moment in the moment. There was immediate gratitude and a smile came across my face. "Make Room to Follow The Fish" was the mnemonic device I used to remind myself to write more about it when I got to the surface. (Yes, I was thinking about you all at the bottom of the ocean.)

So today I am asking myself the question: what other ways can I slow down and create the kind of calm that will allow the rare and special discoveries to occur? What am I trying to force when I just need to take the next breath?

How do I Make Room to follow the fish?

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