Out in the open ocean, where there isn’t sediment or nutrient input from rivers or currents, the water is deep, inky blue. Under a cloudy sky, it looks black. Looking down into it, I try to see below the slightly glistening surface to the light-eating depths. We lower instruments into the darkness and watch them disappear into the deep. We collect water samples in little jars that magnify what we know and magnify what we don’t.
Sitting there on a boat with miles of ocean around and hundreds of meters below, being tossed around by powerful waves, it reminds me that my love for the ocean is also a kind of fear, but a fear that makes me love it even more, because the ocean is unknowable. And it reminds me of other things that are unknowable. Like the future. Like the universe. Like another person’s mind. It is wonderful to know, but it is also wonderful to sit in a little boat on a vast sea of the unknown, gazing at the obstinate depths and shining down lights that will not be reflected back.
At night we are surrounded by darkness, pitch-black, above and below and all around. And silence, except for the waves singing little notes as they hit against the metal hull a few inches from my ear. It is the best sleep, to be a little point of light in the vast darkness, to be a warm, beating heart resting on a sea of unknowing.