Scuba diving in Thailand was an entirely unique experience for someone as boring as me, and I wouldn’t soon forget it. The smell and taste of the salt water reminded me of all the childhood summers I spent at the Oregon coast searching for sand dollars and playing in the sand. The constant “whoosh” of the ocean’s tide sent memories of my first time coursing through my mind; that incredible night camping with my girlfriend on the beach in Cancun during spring break. The gentle tickling of the anemones against my arms and legs as I swam felt like the first time my newborn son reached out and held my hand, his tiny fingers brushing the hair on my arms.
Most striking though were all the colors. Radiant yellows, pulsing blues, neon green, ochre, fuchsia, white, pink, purple, every color was represented in this underwater rainbow. The clownfish darting among the tendrils only increased the colorful array.
On the boat back to shore a tour guide told me in passing the clownfish and the anemones take care of one another. The clownfish protect the anemones from predators and parasites, and in return the anemones use their stinging tentacles to ward off larger predators of the clownfish. He used the word symbiosis, and I realized I’d never heard a more beautiful word.
I thought of my wife and our children. Aren’t we all looking for someone to live in symbiosis with? To find that one person we can share our lives with and protect, and in return they trust and protect us? It seems too easy all we need to survive is someone to live in symbiosis with, but perhaps the true path to happiness has been in front of us the whole time.
I arrived home the next day and held my wife close as I told her about my trip. I told her the story about the anemones, and symbiosis, and what it all meant. She looked at me, kissed me softly, and said, “I’ll always take care of you, if you always take care of me.” She understood it too. Next time I’m in Thailand I’ll have to say “thank you” to the beautiful anemones for saving my family.