Glass bottom boats and relationships

Shortly after Super Mom and I took our vows as husband and wife we took one of our first trips as a married couple to the island of Bermuda. Like most Samoan boys who grow up in a sheltered life where an education on life and an exposure to the world outside of my own was mostly from text books and television shows, I knew very little about Bermuda. Mostly I knew about the infamous Bermuda Triangle but I never knew that there was actually a place called Bermuda and I once had an affinity for Bermuda shorts.

But Bermuda turned out to be a very intriguing place that I highly recommend to those who are searching for a trip off the beaten path. Since it is located 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina it does not share a lot of the same characteristics with the tropical islands of the Pacific but it does have its own quaint, European charm. There is a lot of history to be found there along with a number of tourist traps that are veiled in serene ambience and the warm, colloquial nature of its locals.

We had a wonderful time together perusing shops, zipping around the coastline on our scooter (this is the primary mode of transportation for tourists and a very fun one at that). The scenery and the contented tranquility of the place was endearing on that quiet, well-manicured British outpost. Time truly stood still there and for a time, I felt as if that life was meant for me, not the chaotic, quickening pace of home.

One of our very last excursions during our short stay in Bermuda was on a ride in a glass bottom boat from Hamilton where we were staying to St. George’s parish. Again, it was one of those classic “never before in my life” moments when the Samoan boy from Utah stepped onto a glass bottom boat that revealed all of the beauty of nature that often goes unseen by those who are bustling from one place to another, oblivious to the splendor that lies beneath the surface.

It was a surreal experience watching the world below our feet slip past in different shades of blue and green, a virtual palette of colors darting back and forth on the strength of fins and gills. But as is the case in many such situations the analytical part of me began to dissect the experience, making the clear waters murky with my thoughts, ruining it altogether.

What if, for example, the bottom were to fall out? None of us was wearing a life jacket (a fact that seems odd to me now all these years later), so I’m sure I would be one of the first to drown because I’m a horrible swimmer and doggy-paddling the length of that channel was not going to be an easy task for me. What real dangers are concealed by that awesome beauty in the depths of that crystalline water? Believe me; I’ve watched enough ‘horror on the high seas’ movies with mutant piranhas, gigantic killer great white sharks and orca’s with a grudge to know that my mind would have sent my heart into cardiac mode.

Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to get off that moving hazard because my paranoia was quickly overriding my fancy for riding in glass bottom boats. I’ve never had a fear of the water like I did that day and I haven’t had one since (except for that time I nearly drowned at Lake Powell – another story for another day) but I’ve learned a little something after that experience popped into my head again last night and while wondering about the relationships that I have with people.

If you are anything like me, sometimes when you experience something for the first time or when you get an opportunity to do something that you have always dreamed of doing, you tend to ignore safety protocols or bypass the inherent risks because this is something that you really want to do. I have often done this and paid dearly for the consequences.

This also holds true with relationships. I have a very cynical heart. I have been mentally and emotionally burned, broken, torched, battered and bruised by relationships which is why I no longer have a lot of close friends. I used to walk into relationships like I walked onto that glass bottom boat – with a carefree, throw caution to the wind attitude. Until, that is, I learned the nature of people. I am not immune to that nature that makes us hurt, abuse and mistreat others. I have learned though, that I despise being treated that way and therefore do my dogged best to treat others with dignity even if I never share a morsel or a word with that person.

And just like that glass bottom boat we ignore the safety signs in relationships. Perhaps because we are in awe of someone or we idolize them for some perceived act of greatness. And when we find ourselves knee deep in water because the bottom has fallen out and we are sinking fast that moment of clarity lifts the fog in our minds and we wrestle with the thought that we should have grabbed that life vest on the way in just in case.

Relationships are tough – especially the ones in which we have invested so much time to cultivate. But we can never know what lurks beneath all of the ardor, the beauty and raw power of our passion and belief in another human being. So be cautious when stepping onboard. Be open and yet guarded. Take every possible precaution because that is the price one must pay to be safe in life and in relationships.

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6 Responses to Glass bottom boats and relationships

  1. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful post, brother.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love the post. I feel ya on this. It’s so hard when u open urself up to someone and let down ur guard just to get burned. I feel like I have been burned so many times, its hard to trust anyone. N relationships without trust are pretty much doomed from the beginning. It’s been pretty damaging to be mislead by what I thought were close friends n family. It’s hard knowing u were jus a door mat. I use to be a people person, now I feel like I don’t know how to talk to anyone because I’m to afraid of being hurt. I’m sorry u have been hurt. You and ur family are wonderful people. U do so much for ur neighborhood, church, n community that people should have nothing but love and respect for u guys. U n ur family treat everyone with open arms and without judgement. U deserve it in return.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Your writing is wonderful, so easy to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. kareninauckland says:

    Definitely know what it’s like to have a cynical heart…I think the goal as you get older should be how NOT to succumb to cynicism! It’s hard to trust people though, once you’ve been burned a few times – whether it’s friendships, family or romantic relationships!

    • Seti Matua says:

      How do you stop being cynical when it’s the way you’ve looked at the world all your life? I agree about having difficulties trusting when you’ve been burned but I hope that we can all find a way to overcome that fear of trust. Always good to hear from you Karen!

  5. Trust is definitely a Big Issue with me. Well written as usual. Love your way with words. I love with OPEN ARMS but betray that Love and its hard to regain. My greenie on the mission was told by my Mission President Jerry Roundy, “You will be assigned to Sister Stevenson and she is Samoan. Do you know any Polynesians?” My greenie said she had known some but wasn’t sure what Pres was going to tell her next. Pres. Roundy told her, “Polynesians either LOVE YOU or HATE YOU. Let’s hope she Loves YOU, now Go out there sister Perley”…. Needless to say, I loved Sister Perley as a sister and to this day we still laugh at that memory of her in a panic thinking I was going to BEAT HER UP and when she met me, I was all SMILES but trust— We WORKED!…. thanks again Seti!

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