Weekly Message from T. J.

Getting Schooled

I had to be careful. I had to be quick. The four-wheelers, with their blue lights and uniformed drivers were flowing out in formation from the beach and across the park. There must have been more than a dozen of them. I knew that if I dawdled (a strange word to see in type) even an inch, I could be in trouble. My car was parked about a minute’s walk from the shore, so I felt like I’d be OK. I threaded my arm through my goggle strap and rested the eyepieces on my shoulder to show I meant business, and off I went.

I am not one to avoid or dodge the police. My court record fighting the City of Honolulu for baseless parking, speeding and jaywalking accusations is unblemished. But the sight of so many police officers seeming so single minded in their purpose of citing people on the beach and the stories I hear of people being cited because they were not at least waist-deep in the water, gave me pause. So I scurried across the road and over the little patch of fallen pine needles by Kaimanas, and strode purposefully over the narrow sands to the water’s edge.

On my way into the water, I spotted a very dark patch a few dozen yards from me on my way to the windsock. It couldn’t be reef, could it? I swim this stretch a lot and I don’t remember seeing any reef there. But I didn’t have time to ponder. My waist was dangerously northward of the water line and there were swarms of police circling the beaches. So I pulled my goggles on and just kept swimming.

It was a clear day in the water. The sun directly overhead at noontime accentuated lots of the features you might miss in the afternoon. Even though I was keeping a good pace, my head leaning right and out every fourth stroke, I could keep a good eye on what was going on. But then the dark patch was there on my right. It was the same dark patch I saw when I was wading in to safety from citation. And as my head tilted to draw breath, it was hard to make out what I was seeing. But after a few more strokes and some fresh oxygen, I saw that the dark patch was the largest school of fish I had ever seen.

The churning, folding, zooming, patterns of this symphony of motion were so dense and entangled that Hawaii’s noonday sun could not pierce their gathering. And something in me wanted to turn and be part of a gathering of such enormous size and density for the first time in more than half a year. No cop could nab me here. And no court would hear the state’s case. And I’d slip into the stream of teaming life once more. But I didn’t want to disturb their school, so I kept to my course over the churning sea to the windsock.

But just then I saw a man breast-stroking his way to shore. I called out, “Hey, that’s a giant school of fish right there.” And he called back, “Really? Cool.” And he headed right into the middle of them.

Many blessings on each of our paths today, my friends.
Rev. T. J.

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