Swimming with Sharks and Finding God in the Ocean

Yes the video is about a brave woman who swam with a shark, but beyond that it tells and conjures up so much more for those who view it. Did you find yourself questioning your place in the world? Or wondering, if not with a Great White, how you connect to nature, and the people and places around you? I had these questions running through my mind and it brought me back to an “A-HA” moment I had in the sea. But before I go on with that, you should know who this woman in the vid is.

Kimi Werner is a Hawaiian native, free-diver, and spear-fisherwoman, but she is widely known for swimming with a Great White Shark. Kimi admittedly narrates that she could have been eaten at any time by the shark but her knowledge of fish body language assured her that she wouldn’t be the shark’s next meal. Ultimately, this assurance emboldened Kimi to get closer and swim on the dorsal fin of the Great White shark.

Aside from swimming with massive predators, Kimi is an artist and all-around ocean and nature lover. Her respect for and her connection to the ocean and land is inspiring.

While I’ve never swam with a Great White shark (I have with other species) I could watch this video on loop because it reminds me of a day in the ocean that I’ll never forget. I was snorkeling off the coast of a small island in the Caribbean Sea and there was no one around, save for a sailboat a few miles off in the distance. With each stroke, I made my way past an array of tropical fish and marine-life. While that was mind-blowing and beautiful, it wasn’t until I journeyed deeper into the sea that I met another kind of marine-life, massive coral reefs. The reefs were the size of punch buggies and larger, bold in hue, and multifaceted on the surface- there was no one way to look at them. I was floored. Time stopped, I stopped swimming, and what happened at that very moment I can only describe as this: I met God in the ocean that day.

There’s some sort of spiritual consciousness and shift that takes place upon realizing who you are: you are not just a physical presence but also a piece of a fabric of living beings. That moment for me, was simply defining and humbling.

I was shook-up by the enormity of my “A-HA” moment so I made my way back to shore. Still pondering my defining moment, I was a bit removed from my surroundings when I reached the shore. What happened next can only be described as: OUCH! There was something sharp, spiny, and clandestinely positioned in my path which I stepped on: a sea urchin. Needless to say, I hopped all the way back home.

Kimi had her Great White moment and me, a coral one. What I love so much about the sea is how telling it is. When I’m in the sea my courage is tested: sink or swim. While fishing, my patience is tested. And for athletes like surfers, their balance and skill are constantly commanded by the waves.

We live our whole lives on land but in the ocean we define and discover who we truly are.

White Wash: The History and Present of Segregation, Swimming, and Surfing

Winter’s slowly creeping in and it’s the last thing I look forward to.  I know it’s not humanly possible but I’m cold-blooded.  I’m not not sure why but with any slight temperature drop in weather, it seems my body temp does the same.  In simple consequence, winter makes me want nothing more than to be at the beach…tropic temps only.  Sometimes, that’s geographically impossible so I usually reminisce about past adventures I’ve had in the ocean or seaside.

This year alone I’ve joyfully had my fair share of snorkeling, bogey boarding, boating, kayaking, and swimming.  While it was nice to look back on these memories, I had to fulfill my craving for the ocean in another form.  I started watching surfing videos, movies, following surfers on Instagram etc. etc.  Though I’ve never rode a wave on a surfboard, it’s next on my adventure list.

Recently, I came across a documentary called White Wash about the history of surfing and black surfers.  In particular, the film highlights the origins of surfing in Hawaii by aboriginals, surfing’s disappearance enforced by English missionaries in Hawaii,  the sport’s reemergence in white American society, and the present blossoming community of black surfers in the U.S.

Virgil Films & Entertainment

White Wash is enlightening because it presents the full spectrum of surfing.  The fascinating sport is oftentimes associated with one group or subculture but this documentary broadens the view of surfing culture and the array of people and nations that formed, participate in, and continue to transform surfing.

Stepping into any arena of life that is dominated by a culture, race, class, or creed dissimilar or contrary to your own has its challenges and setbacks.  Yet I feel that if you have anything from a lingering curiosity to a strong desire to try something or begin an adventure, it’s yours for the taking.  I’ve had surfing on my mind and I’m looking forward to trying it soon.  White Wash provided an excellent platform for my new interest.  The film is currently available on Netflix and Hulu.  Check out the official website here.