Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Do Something You Have Never Done Before

I'd been in Panama for several months when my friend Dave Clark suggested we go snorkeling on the following Saturday. I didn't have any gear so Dave made arrangements to borrow a truck for the fifteen mile trip from Fort Sherman to the Post Exchange in Coca Sola. We perused the sports department and I picked up a mask, a snorkel and some fins and we headed over to the VFW for supper. I ordered a cheeseburger and some fried Wontons along with a rum and Coke. Rum was cheap in Panama because they make it there. Couple of drinks and you were bullet proof.
It was payday weekend so we punched some quarters in the jukebox and settled in for a leisurely meal. I had just discovered the Eagles and John Prine so we sat around the old club and listened to records, drank cheap rum and talked about our dreams.
It was one of those times when it would have been so easy to tank up and sleep it off in the back of the truck, but Dave told me that we had to hit the water bright and early in the morning. So we paid the check and headed south through on a jungle road that had lush green bushes, shrubs and banana trees right up to the pavement. It was like driving through an electric green tunnel as the sun set over the bay of Colon. Just before nightfall, we passed a native that had what must have been eight iguana lizards over his shoulder. Not sure what he did with them but the scene looked surreal and even today I have to ask myself if it was a rumvision.
Sunrise came early and Dave was excited to get in the water. We ate breakfast in the mess hall and walked out towards the breaker wall that separated the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Colon. On the ocean side, the waves were breaking hard over the rocks, but on the bay side of the wall, the water was a smooth as a bathtub. We put on our gear and made our way to water's edge and slipped in. The morning sun was warm as always and the angle of the light made the water a deep indigo.
I got the hang of snorkeling almost immediately. Dave and I swam side by side until my eyes adjusted but then my brain was assaulted with vivid color darting about just inches from my face. What I saw was nothing less than remarkable. Swimming in the shallow water near the rocks of the breaker wall I saw thousands and thousands of fish. Fish of every color that you can imagine. Small fish that you might see in a fish bowl and larger fish that could eat your cat The variety was amazing and they were not afraid of humans. Some of them would swim right up to the mask and look in as if it were me that was in an aquarium.
It occurred to me that day that we live in a garden and life is a gift. I encourage you to try and do something each day that you have never done before. And if you get a chance to snorkel, I guarantee that you won't regret it.

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