This is a story about a boy who never enjoyed a single minute in the sea – but can’t help to found unrequited love for it.
If that opening sounded like a tagline to a corny romantic comedy, I’m sorry. But it rings the hard truth about me, though—that I really hate the ocean. Shocked enough? Let me list you the ironies in this narrative.
First of all, I have lived in Bali for roughly more than 15 years now. Yes, an island most famous for being the closest thing in the Southern hemisphere that anybody can call paradise, thanks to its countless hidden beaches and legendary surfing nooks, fantastic diving spots and snazzy water recreations. Practically al- most everything that made Bali got its reputation is because of the waters. Second reason, Who doesn’t like the ocean? Well, I for one, am one of them. I never enjoyed a visit to the beach. The sand that gets into everywhere, the water that rises gradually, the hot sun on my face (especially my eyes). Another funny fact to add, last month I visited Nusa Lembongan for the very first time since I started to live in Bali, or any one of the Nusas for that matter—we’ll get to that later.
At this point, you must’ve already given up, or actually understand my point of view. Not all people likes to go out, especially to the beach or the ocean. And I can give an opposing example, that there are people that don’t like what I like— such as to spend hours being indoors, binge-watching a single season of TV series. But I also get your paradoxical judgment that in an island as beautiful as this, how can I not like the ocean.
Let’s scoot back to that experience in Nusa Lembongan. As someone not fond of the sea, crossing there on a mere 30 minutes speedboat ride was not a pleas- ant trip for me. I could not sleep, much les enjoying the view. I was holding on a mast the whole time, sitting straight still and being aware of every wave that the boat struck. In short, I realised that my resentment for the ocean was more about fear. Being on the water feels so foreign to me, miles away from the comfort zone of my bed or my desk at the office—or even just standing firmly on the ground. It’s that feeling of intense uselessness of myself that I can’t stand, and made me quite uneasy.
But, I’m the planet’s child at heart. I adore and worship all its glories, all the calming green of its forests, the shining gold of its deserts, the blinding white of its mountains and the hypnotic blue of its oceans. Being a first timer at Lembongan, my eyes were opened by a scene that I rarely see anymore in the main- land: where human and nature coexist, with the former still acts as the nurturing mother. Particularly, the ocean that surrounds this tiny island like a giant hug. Glass clear water hitting the pristine beaches, rocks that looked like the inside of a goth cathedral shaped by millions of years of water crashing on its surface as well as those majestic splashes created every time said waves struck the rocks, even a mangrove forest where you can see more water than the floating plastic garbage.
“Being a first timer at Lembongan, my eyes were opened by a scene that I rarely see anymore in the mainland: where human and nature coexist, with the former still acts as the nurturing mother.”
Before I know it, I have let my sense of being minuscule to get the best of me, just like when I was on the boat a few hours before—surprisingly, in a good way. Witnessing all that overwhelming grandeur before my spoiled couch potato character made me realize that not only I am cosmically small and inconsequential, but so very lucky. I am most fortunate to have seen all that, to have experienced a natural routine in my truly insignificant lifetime. Realizing that my years would only stretch to 80 something years (may- be less, maybe more), compared to every- thing that this mother ocean have gone through, just to give me a few minutes of revelation, wonderment and humility.
It was almost a religious experience, and I’ve felt converted that instant. That’s why it broke my heart when hearing the news about the dying seaweed plantation (which was one of Lembongan’s main industry) because of the rise of speed- boats coming to the island. These boats brought in pollutions with them, killing the plantations in the process. And just like the mainland, and any of the over- crowded lands in this country and all around the world, it’s happening again. Where humans arrogantly think that they own the ocean and entitled to everything it has to offer. Is it too far if we predict there will be more buildings than clean coastlines next? Or more garbage than sand later?
My tiny, irrelevant but proud self could only hope that will not be the case. For I am forever seasick, sick of this over- whelming love for my mother, the ocean – and letting her to slowly taint, just means that I am an ungrateful child.