For years I dreamed of sharks and didn’t know why. Were sharks merely symbols of my neuroses? Poetic of my “Jaws” obsession? Was I supposed to channel the ancient wisdom of predatory fish in order to swim fearlessly through the seas of my own life?
“When the animals come to us in dreams or visions, they are not, as the common jargon would have it, our power animals. They do not bring us power. They come to us so we can serve them. So we can carry their intelligence and vision into the world. They come to bring us back through service to all living things.”
In an hour that I spend traveling the circular, well-worn paths of my solipsism trying to understand sharks as personal metaphors, roughly 11,000 of them die–suffocating in nets, struggling on the decks of “sport” fishing boats or drowning after their fins are cut off–to add not flavor but thickness to shark fin soup, the food of status, of emperors.
People kill about 100 million sharks a year. Many species teeter on the brink of extinction.
What can I do in order not to forget?
Recently, I read about a woman named Sara Bayles who picked up trash from the Santa Monica Beach for 365 (non-consecutive) days. She ended up collecting about 1300 pounds of garbage. This feat feels both simple and monumental. I liked the idea of doing something for a year. Next June, I will be traveling to South Africa to go cage diving with great whites. It seems like a perfect end to this experience, this Year of the Shark.
To keep the sharks at the forefront of my consciousness, I decided to try to help them every day for the next 365 days. Whether I take direct action (fundraising for a shark charity) or do something indirect (picking up trash that could end up in storm drain on its way to the ocean), I am going to keep a record of it here. But I want this blog to be more than just a list. I want it to reveal fun, strange, beautiful, essential things about sharks,and about what happens to us when we extend our awareness past the boundaries, past the dream of ourselves.