Jose Fernandez was a baseball pitcher who died in a tragic boating accident at the age of 24. He had Hall of Fame talent, was already a superstar and likely would have earned a few hundred million dollars.
When he was seventeen, he was in a small boat with a dozen other Cubans trying to escape the island under the cover of darkness, hoping to get to Florida and freedom. At one point, he heard someone fall overboard and instinctively jumped out of the boat into the sea to save the person. It wasn’t until he was able to get to the person in peril that he realized it was his own mother. It became a legendary profile in courage and selflessness.
It still hasn’t been warm since I’ve been here in Cuba but I felt the need to go down to the ocean today anyway. No one was swimming or sunbathing -just a few people walking- so I kind of felt like I had the place to myself. The sand, the bluest water, and the biggest sky I’ve ever seen. And the relentless sound of the waves crashing upon the shore. I felt very small and very humbled. It was an emotional experience.
And it brought to mind the history of humankind and big waters. The courage people have exhibited for millenia, traveling into the unknown, risking their lives and carrying on anyway. Whether it was the first sailors in the Mediterranean, or the first trans-Atlantic sailors, or even our own First Nations peoples traveling the Great Lakes.
I don’t know how ocean currents work. I could probably look it up. But I’d prefer to imagine that the waters that were crashing down in front of me today had once been the same waters that the most courageous among us through out human history once rode into the unknown.
That these waves had seen the North Sea or the Indian Ocean or the South Pacific. That these were the same waves where Jose Fernandez plunged into the darkness to save who he thought was a stranger. And where he ultimately lost his life.
That today, by myself on a cold and windy beach, I saw the waters that had traveled the world and had witnessed all of time.