Earlier today I was diving a reef off the island of Curacao, when I suddenly noticed a lion-fish. Though very pretty, this marine creature is not a native to the Caribbean. Having no natural predators it had caused much havoc in the local eco-system. How it found its way to these waters is anyone’s guess. From previous visits to Curacao, I knew the local diving community had launched a campaign to catch this breed and exterminate as many of them as possible. When I last dove the island’s reefs, the divemasters were carrying net bags, trapping these fish and taking them back for study and elimination. Thus you can imagine my excitement at my discovery. I rushed to call the attention of the divemaster leading the dive to my find. Yet to my bafflement and disappointment, all the divemaster did was to acknowledge he saw what I was pointing at, and then hurriedly pull me away as in my excitement I was treading too close to the reef. I felt at once flashed and offended: not only was he doing nothing about the lion-fish, but also I was being pulled away like a newbie to diving (I should mention here that I am an experienced divemaster with well over 14 years of diving experience and hundreds of dives.) For the rest of the dive my focus was no longer on the beauty surrounding me but rather on my insult. I realized it is nothing but my ego shouting for recognition, but it still hurt. Reluctantly I resorted to observing my ridiculous state of mind.
Later on, after the dive was over, I inquired with the divemaster as to the island’s current lion-fish policy. “I thought you were keen on eliminating them,” I said. “Oh, yes,” he casually replied, “we are, but at current it is done only once a week — on Wednesdays.”
Reflecting on the incident, my memory dug out a time, some years prior, when I dove with a newbie diver who, shortly after entering the water, pulled my arm in excitement at sighting a trumpet fish. Little did he know that these fish were quite common in that area, and that discovering one amounted to pretty much nothing special. But not wanting to spoil his excitement and being a good sports, I responded with a nice acknowledgement. I wonder if that memory, of how, despite my gallant response, I felt superior to the other diver, is what caused me to feel so embarrassed at realizing I may be conceived as a newbie. Oh well, the ocean washes everything, including bruised egos.
Learned from: time underwater