I am a white, British passport holding immigrant. I live abroad, I upped and left my motherland for another place and I stayed, made it my home, so if we must give me a name then let's make it the same name we give everyone else who has left their homes and settled elsewhere. I am an immigrant.
Then there are those that really have to leave and have no where to call home, these people are refugees. This is about them and the sea. Please remember that there is no telling where and when we all might be effected by change. One day we too might find ourselves out at sea.
I sat facing the Mediterranean, that day my eldest daughter had dived with turtles, my little baby had swallowed salty water between giggles as her water wings kept her afloat. I love the sea, when I am away from it I miss it so much, like I would my lover or maybe even a part of my body.
On the shore I breathe it's salty scent and hear the swell as the afternoon Lodos wind rises. I know a few secrets of the deep having dived here, I know of the currents and the dangers and I've felt the reality of suffocation (during a simulated situation on an advanced divers course). I know of men whose bodies were never recovered after a wave washed them away. I've swum with countless varieties of life and wept tears of joy and peace among the shoals and in the deep caves, I've been surrounded by silvery schools that sparkle and undulate with exquisite beauty and grace. I've used conscious immersion into my memory of the sea and its depths to alleviate my emotions in times of great stress. I have also assisted with the recovery of the lifeless body of a boy and his father who had drowned in a nearby cove. I can swim, I'm a trained diver yet I know this sea, I respect that it does what it does and we must all act accordingly. I have seen the life it is, that it gives and the life it has taken and I have wept salty tears. The sea is not hungry* for our lives, I was in the water feeling it's anguish as I watched that dead boy tied up in ropes and hoisted up the rock face. I felt the sea all around me lifting me up, my buoyancy causing the need for weights to sink me. No, the sea was not hungry. Not indifferent either. After all we too are the most part water.
That drowning was an incident from almost 10 years ago, but in the meantime we have been swept away with tales and images of how the sea takes life upon life. Today as I edit this here on the Black Sea coast the families of the crew of a sunken cargo ship wait for deliverance of their perished loved ones. It seems the sea won't return these bodies and again the depths will be known as a merciless, hungry, watery grave.
The sea did not ask that we die there, it did not take us willingly, act upon whim or take advantage of our circumstance, it does not pity us or or hunger for us and cannot even beg that we respect it in return for our lives. Though it is our lives it can sustain when it is allowed to flourish and exist unhindered.
If we will talk of hunger it is that of the policies that allow the seas and the oceans to sink under the weight of filth and pollutants. It is that of so many poor refugees whose hunger for a safe life caused them to perish and it is hunger of a profoundly greedy nature that causes war, inequality, famine and ongoing tragedies.
During that part of the refugee crisis when we heard of drownings daily I sat on the Mediterranean shore and prayed to the world for some sanity to prevail so that the sea would not fill the lungs of more innocent victims again that night. I prayed that the Lodos would falter and that the swell would not rise, but I never asked the sea to have mercy. The sea IS mercy.
Stories of death from the sea are quieter now, not that a solution has been found and the perpetrators of indifference and the wall erectors of self righteousness heard my prayer, but because hope has been crushed.
You too are probably an immigrant or a refugee by heritage and what we can predict is that we may all find ourselves having to move on one day.
No one has a simple answer to this, but we can take inspiration from the sea which does not exclude or judge, the sea simply is. The sea is forever travelling in essence around the globe and through our bodies, hydrating our cells and the soil and then back through the gills of fishes. Migration is inherent in us and so too is our ability to hear the sea's message. Keep me clean and I will be the air that you breathe, ride on me and I will take you where you will, cherish me and I will feed you and sustain all of our planet. Love me and be one with me and be one with yourselves.
*A friend of mine posted this poem by Pablo Doherty and I was inspired to expand upon the use of the words "hungry sea".
A poem written by Pablo Doherty
Hopeless souls on hungry sea
They come to us, these refugees
With babes in arms on bended knee
As tyranny and war they flee
In coffin ships upon the wave
The mercy of the deep they brave
As lowered to their watery grave
Outstretched hands our lives do crave
Loaded up and pushed adrift
With only that which they could lift
Lost children through the bodies sift
Survival is their greatest gift
I watched a father raise his young
And beg the sanctuary of one
Who stood behind a loaded gun
Some cover from the burning sun
So to the ocean floor they ease
From flowing tears and endless pleas
And gently floating on the breeze
The ghosts of all our refugees
Note: The sketch shows Soldierfish, they too are immigrants. from the Red Sea via the Suez canal to the Mediterranean.
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