I am convinced that we know relatively little about life underwater life because we are downright scared of it. Could it be that we more or less ignore the over seventy percent of life forms on earth because they remind us of the parts within ourselves that have sunken below the water surface? The parts that we rather forget? The life that’s lurking in the deep, dark corals of our own mind? I think so.
Water, seas and oceans have always fascinated and scared human beings. In virtually every cultural imagination, water has been associated with the unconscious, the unknown, the dangerous, unpredictable, female element. Its soft, flowing nature can quickly change into a something that swipes you away; a force that makes you sink and drown. Seas and oceans, the culmination of water, represent a large, existential fear: a fear of the unknown and obscure. I seriously suspect that our ignorance towards the underwater world, its inhabitants and its importance is actually a fear towards ourselves. Towards the sunken, unfamiliar parts of ourselves. An angst for the monsters that are looming in the deep sea of our own minds and hearts.
The only way to misbehave against something is to create a certain imaginary distance towards it. That’s exactly what we did with underwater life. We’ve somehow excluded fish from the animal realm. But do you still eat fish?, that popular question asked of vegetarians reveals the non-animal status we have attached to fish. Our huge fishing nets leave a trail of underwater devastation, but who cares? As a species we seem experts in denying what is invisible, what’s below the surface. But everyone knows that what is below the surface has to eventually, inevitable, surface.
The destruction that is currently taking place underneath the surfaces of our oceans is a clear sign of humanity’s disconnection from our own subconsciousness. It’s a sign that we are cut off from the intuitive undercurrent that connects us with all Life. This disconnection has got us massively plundering life below the surface, in the hopes of finding something there which will make us happy and fulfilled. But it doesn’t work that way. Happiness doesn’t work from the outside in. It doesn’t work if it makes us crawl over the backs of countless fellow beings to get it. It works from the inside out.
The degree in which we are willing to touch the unknown, unfamiliar, scary places in ourselves is the degree in which we can care for the world around us. The degree in which we can love it. Care for it. Start to take care of your own deep sea monsters first. Get to know them. Find out where they hide. Descend into the forgotten parts of yourself. Be curious and kind to what you encounter. Only then can we create a sustainable relationship with the life inside and outside of our worlds.