During a recent trip, my husband was trying to schedule a tour for the two of us. He asked me if I would like to swim with whale sharks, and not giving it too much thought, I promptly said yes. I agreed mostly because it would be an opportunity to do something different and fun as a date with him. We had to wake up before 5am on the day of the tour, which was good because it took me a while to be conscious enough to realize what we were about to do: swim with the largest living fish species on Earth! Their length apparently can reach 40 feet (about 12 meters).
By 11am, we were one ferry trip, one hour bus drive plus two hours on a boat closer to our adventure. Then I started to give it some thought and sensed a bit of fear growing inside me. With the wind on my face and sunrays on me, it was somewhat easy to close my eyes and simply acknowledge that fear. Then, I expected it to grow, but surprisingly it did not. It somehow melted away, once I made room for it inside me. And so I felt relaxed when the moment came for us to go into the water with one of the huge whale sharks.
Once in the water, I had to keep up with that big creature, which was about five times my size. I stayed on one side of it, and swam. I swam as fast as I could, but pretty soon, instead of being aligned with the animal’s head, I would see its tail right next to me! The whale shark is so big that a little move in its tail will push him forward a long way. And that’s how everybody ends up going back to the boat to allow the next pair to go in the water to swim with the next whale shark that can be found in the same area.
About fifteen minutes later, it was time for us to jump in the water again. I decided to enjoy it fully this time. I did not need to worry about how it would go as I had just done it. So, I swam as much as I could to keep up with that huge creature, which was also beautiful, with a pattern of pale yellow dots perfectly aligned on its back. Its little eyes would follow swimmers around it, but it did not seem to mind us there. At first, I felt grateful that such a big animal would consider me part of its world and just coexist peacefully in that vast blue ocean. And so I kept observing that whale shark gliding in the water, eating plankton, and flowing with the current. Sometimes a boat would get in its way, and without fuss, the whale shark would just take a detour or go deeper and calmly swim under the boat. By watching that, I thought they were a role model on patience. Here we were, a bunch of people swimming along the animal’s sides, boats suddenly blocking its natural path, even a noisy helicopter flying by very low, and that huge creature, whose open mouth could fit me in without a problem, didn’t get annoyed at all. It kept doing the same thing, swimming without hurry and opening its mouth to filter plankton from the water. How gentle it was! It swam without splashing or bumping onto us. However, it would probably accidentally touch someone who would get within its tail’s reach.
As soon as I got back on the boat, a question came to me, “why don’t we humans keep doing what we are supposed to do instead of stopping all the time to listen to useless distractions or to complain about things getting in our way?” That’s probably why we take so long to accomplish things. By things I mean more than cleaning a house, for example, I mean our biggest accomplishments in life, like finding out our life’s purpose or at least doing something about it. All of us could use lots of patience! We need patience to deal with all distractions coming our way. Life happens. We will have to take detours many times during our lives, but need patience and perseverance to keep our focus on what we need to do and find our path again and again. Just like those whale sharks swimming back to their feeding area again and again.
I feel very grateful for getting even more than I expected from this lovely and unforgettable experience.