The Aegean Ocean stretched in front of me. Cool. Calm. And inviting.
Sunlight glittered on each ripple, and danced within the crest of each wave.
I was surrounded by color, each one more glorious than the first. Black sand on the beach. Red lava rock on the cliff face. And the blue’s… oh dear lord, the blue’s were incredible. The blue of the ocean was more akin to a flawless azure stone – deeply colorful, sparkly, and magical. Depending on one’s eye level, the blueness ranged from the color of Daniel Craig’s eyes (he’s not my favorite bond, but holy hell, he’s got some baby blues), to Cameron Diaz’s eyes, to Zooey Deschanel’s eyes, to the color of that navy sweater that your grandma gave you – the one that has its own “special” area reserved in the back of your closet.
My bathing suit was stuck to my body.
In my opinion, the best thing about plunging into any ocean is to get to that point where your body is almost over heating. Where you’re ready for the cool relief that the water will undoubtedly bestow upon you. It may involve sweating. And your suit may slip into uncomfortable areas as a result of said sweating. But you know it’ll all be worth it.
I was ready for the water. I looked over at my younger sister. Our eyes had a conversation:
S – Water time? One eyebrow raised in anticipation.
R – Oh yeah baby. Im ready. Smirk of a smile.
S – This is going to be epic. Huge grin.
R – Who say’s this isn’t a nude beach? Starts untying the straps around her neck.
“No! Rachel! There’s a sign right there.” Points. “It says something in Greek, but I’m SURE that the red X across the naked looking bodies is universally understood by humans” (other life forms may not understand it, but humans were sure to).
She gave me a look as if to say youre-lucky-im-in-a-nice-mood-or-id-already-be-nude.
“Alright, lets do this!”
But before our perfect peach sized bottoms even had the chance to move off of the chairs that held them, we both gazed out towards the water, our puzzled expressions clearly visible.
A group of three Europeans in their mid-forties had also felt the need to dip their sweaty bodies into the salty Greek ocean. However, they seemed to be having trouble walking. Each step was followed by flailing hand motions and wobbly stances. They muttered words to each other in their own language, hands still flailing.
What. On. Earth. Were. They. DOING!?
Just walk into the water people. Is it that difficult? Are you trying to exercise while walking? Is this some sort of new awkward European dance-walk that I don’t know about? Come on!
One of the larger of the three strangely jerked his leg forward, then to the right, then his hands were raised above his head, then they jerked to the left for balance, and then he fell altogether. Oversized limbs crashing into the pristine water.
What the hell is going on? Rachel and I made a few jokes, detached our suit bottoms from the seats below us, and approached the delicious looking ocean.
Peering into the water in front of me, I saw sand. Beautiful sand. Thoughts of “and they think we’re crazy” ran through my head. I looked over at my sister and smiled. The water was wonderful as it slid over my legs and ran between my toes. That’s when my foot slipped. My arms went out in opposite directions, eyes wide in disbelief. I had to plant my one foot firmly where it stood in order to regain my balance and my dignity.
I was standing on top of solidified lava.
The solidified lava, which extended out and around us in ripples, was covered in an algae-like substance, and was therefore incredibly slippery. It was in that moment that the lightbulb lit up over my head.
Santorini was, and still is, a volcano. Thousands of years ago when it erupted, the lava and hot ash covered the surrounding area for miles. And I’m no geologist, but I’m confident that the slippery substance under our feet that looked like black tar was solidified lava from the volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.
So that was why the three Europeans had been stumbling all over the place like they were intoxicated. It was the slippery underwater lava! Of course!
As we walked back to our hostel, dripping with the delicious blue water of the Aegean Sea, I apologized in my head for judging the three Europeans. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s often a subconscious decision that I make – to judge others.
There’s something to be said about making mistakes and being wrong, and then doing what we can to own up to our part and admit our failures. I used to think this showed weakness. And by golly, I wasn’t weak! But no. I’ve learned that this form of humility shows strength.
Since that day in Greece, where I thought I saw an awkward European water dancing troupe, I’ve made a conscious effort to squash my judgements about others. When you take others as they are, without pre-judging them or putting them in boxes, you allow them room to breathe. And in turn, you’re able to breathe, and to accept people as they are.
Each person on this planet is uniquely beautiful in their own way. It’s only once we put aside our wrongful judgements, that we’re able to see them for who they are.
*Raises glass of Neo-Citron* Here’s to the uniquely beautiful mosaic of people that surround us!