Dinner is followed by a sunset trip to the pier. The sooty terns screech and circle above our heads as we navigate our single-file line through the ‘trosses to the beach. At first glance, I don’t notice the normal blue of the lagoon due to the lowering sun shimmering just on the surface. The water appears golden as light bounces between the ripples and fish of all sizes dart around the posts that hold the pier itself around 10 metres off the ground. I lie down flat on my stomach and hang my head off the edge; the view is beautiful, but the blood is rushing to my head. A large fish swims by, it glows in turquoise iridescence and outsizes everything around it by at least three times. That is, until a small shark arrives. I push back up off my stomach. The pier would be a tempting diving platform if it weren’t for what lived beneath it…and the fact that the water is only 2ft deep.
We take photos of albatrosses as they swoop past us in the evening rays, aiming for the golden shot (which includes a reflection, a sunset and the ripples caused by the bird dragging the tip of its wing across the surface of the water).
A pair of spotted-eagle rays wave at us, the edges of their wings breaking the water just enough for us to see. The balance between above and below water is demonstrated in such elegance this way; two creatures crossing into each other’s worlds for such brief moments. As the albatross touches the water and the eagle ray touches the air, the wall between what often feels like two different dimensions is crossed.
Back home in New Zealand, eagle rays jump from the water and fly through the air for a few seconds. Our albatrosses here on Kure will even dive down a few feet after schools of fish. Though so vastly different and seemingly far away from each other, the line between ocean and not becomes blurry as you begin to observe how life revolves around it.
I feel the same with living here. It’s like I’ve stepped into a paradise that does not belong to us – we are albatrosses 30 metres under the sea or eagle rays soaring in the clouds, living in a different dimension.
The more I’ve observed and the more that I have stood back and tried to be insignificant, the more that the line between life in the human world and life in the natural world begins to change for me. Here, we are invisible. I wait on the side of the path to breakfast for an albatross to walk past first, or I crouch motionless along the waterline so as not to disturb a sleeping monk seal. Life’s priorities have changed. My life has never much revolved around social or technological needs, but here they seem to not exist at all.
Earlier this morning, a thunderstorm drenched the island, and everyone’s washing. I watched the rain beat down on the windows from inside the main house, a bowl of ramen warming my hands.
The lightning strikes grew closer and closer and we waited, the clothes outside belonged to the elements at this point. They are, after all, hung up on metal posts. The weather, the birds, the sea around us all control our every move. It’s the island that makes our decisions for us. I like it that way. When I go outside, I know that if I respect what is around me with every step that I take, that it will in turn take care of me. For some people, that symbiotic relationship has been lost, but I treasure mine close to my heart.
We have lost touch with the ground that we walk upon. Mother Nature has no say in the matter anymore and as a result, the human race is having to fend for itself. For all the people who turn their attention to the natural world and away from society for a brief second, they are the tip of an albatross’s wing brushing the water as it soars across the sea. When it sees food, it will dive in and get it. I hope that one day people will see the food our natural world has to offer and I hope that these thoughts will provide an appetiser for those who need to dive in.