Alumni Reflections: At Peace
By Bridget Mueller-Brennan
A cool ocean breeze whips across our faces as we clamber over the barnacle-strewn rocks at the island’s end. The point of the island is submerged during high tide, the uneven rocks dark, porous and full of pits. As we climb, we stop to marvel at the tide pools – troves of multicolored starfish, vibrant, waving anemone, scuttling crabs and crunchy mounds of oysters. Waves break against the rocks, misting us with sparkling spray. Each night we camp here, we come to this point to watch the sunset.
We gather at the edge of the point, settling among the rocks. In silence, we watch as the sun inches towards the waves. The colors are shockingly bright; vibrant pink and soft peach, spiraling out from the great glowing orange orb that is the setting sun. The clouds scattered across the sky turn smoky blue and gentle violet. Small islands rise from sparkling waves, deep blue against the lavender sky in the distance. The ocean reflects the colors back, adding the gentle aqua of the water. We watch the colors wheel by as the sun sinks into the watery depths of the open ocean.
The closeness I feel with my companions is etched into the spectacular sky, each color representing my deepest thoughts. The sky and ocean are telling our story. We only met two weeks before and yet I have never felt so strongly connected to a group. It is a deep bond, a freeing feeling of pure comfort, of belonging. I feel one with earth and nature and all it encompasses, the great ocean, my friends. Understanding passes between us, and I know that everyone feels the same. It is the silence that proves it. No words are needed. And we are one, sitting together at the very edge of land, on the wind-blown rocks as the sea crashes below and the colors fade above.
In that moment, I was most at peace; everything was perfect, the universe in harmony. Many similar sunsets occurred during my Broadreach Marine Mammal Studies camp in British Columbia, shared with ten amazing people from all over the US and Canada. We were more than just friends – we were a family. We camped, cooked, ate together, studied and joined with nature together. On an uninhabited island, we were isolated from civilization, with only nature and each other.
I have always dreamed of being a marine biologist studying humpback whales and protecting the ocean. Everyone on this trip shared my love of the ocean and earth. In this modern world, many lose touch with nature – its beauty, its profound effect on our lives and why it is crucial that we protect it. It was this one pivotal moment, sitting on the rocks watching the sunset with my future colleagues, my kin, that crystallized in my mind that this is worth protecting, this is where I belong. My dream has not only become more real; it has become stronger with a renewed urgency and awe. This epiphany made me realize my dream is true to who I am.