The ocean was his thing. When high school drew to a close, his parents had insisted on him finding a proper career to study in a big city, at least ten hours away from their small town. But Ari, our young enthusiast, was fascinated by the treasures of the sea and was eager to follow his grandfather’s footsteps. That man was a living legend as he had broken all records of size and number of fish he had caught. He was just the best at his craft.
Ari visited Mr. Gons, his grandfather, pretty often. The old man lived in a small shack by the sea, where he would still fish his lunch and ate very little fruits and vegetables, despite his daughter’s insistence. He always told her that he was over eighty years old and, beyond that age, it didn’t really matter what had eaten before in your life. Mister Gons thought the ocean could give anyone a fair life and enough to nourish from.
So it was from him from whom Ari had learned to appreciate the ocean, which had always been there for him. He loved swimming, of course, and had done a bit of surfing but he wasn’t much into it. He loved diving, though. He had attended a school were he had learned all the basics and now he did it every time he had a moment to do it. He would ask his grandfather fro his boat and dive alone, from the break of dawn to lunchtime.
To his grandpa’s disappointment, he never brought fish to eat. He only went there to see the ocean creatures live, to the things they did normally, which was fascinating. He loved animals, sometimes bringing his dog Kop with him in the boat. When high school finished, his parents were mad at him for not having put his name down in any of the schools they suggested. They knew he loved the town but they also knew opportunities there were scarce.
So, because of his decision not to study, he had the chance to do two things he wanted to do instead of studying law or medicine. First of all, he found a job leading tourists to a nearby reef. He would go with small groups and show them the marine life and how they tried to protect it from being destroyed. Besides work, which he always looked forward, he decided to help in the only fishery remaining in town. He started taking the guts out of the fish and putting them on ice but he hoped to get one a boat some day.
The first months were both easy and hard, all at the same time. Driving the tourists around was incredibly relaxing, as only people who really liked the ocean would go on those kind of tours. The few times there was a nervous person, they would all help to make the experience the best of his or her life. There was definitely nothing like watching life just happen before your eyes and that’s what he loved of it.
The fishery, on the other hand, was hard work. He would do it four days a week an even then it was hell. The people handling the place had been shaped by the sea, just like their product, and they didn’t allow anything to go differently than what they had planned. They yelled a lot, especially when the work place was too filthy or the worker was too slow. Taking the guts out and scaling the fish was not as easy as it looked like and it had to be done properly or the fish would be damaged and selling it would be harder.
Every time he got back home, after work, he would be exhausted. It didn’t matter from what job he came from, his hands would always be sore as well as his feet. Besides, Ami would gulp down food and a lot of water at diner time, as he didn’t properly eat all day. His parents were not happy for this but they didn’t say anything. He was being responsible and was winning his own money. They hoped that the workload would make him realized that he needed to study to improve himself.
Then, halfway through the year, something no one had seen coming happened: Mr. Gons had died. It had happened in the night, while he lay on his favorite rocking chair, having fallen asleep with the sound of the waves and the feeling of sand beneath his feat. He was loved by many, especially by those families that had always lived in the town. The turnout at the funeral was outstanding; the family couldn’t have been more proud. Everyone shared stories about him and coincided that he was a one special man.
Ari then, stopped working for a couple of days. His bosses excused him, just by looking at him: he looked beyond sad. He looked as if it was a defining moment for him so they gave him some time to think but not too much as he was needed in both the reef and the fishery. Indeed, Ari thought of his grandpa, who had thought him everything of the sea, but he also thought what he wanted from life. He knew that things were hard out there but then he realized he had already taken steps to make a live of his own.
So the day he returned to work, confident that he was doing everything right. He couldn’t push to happen, he couldn’t force anything, but he could improve himself and just be good at what he did. He started reading a lot more about fishes and other sea creatures so that he would be available to give more complete tours on the reef. As for the fishery, he trained himself with a small knife cutting open everything at home. His mom was certainly impressed when she noticed everything in the fridge had already being chopped in various ways.
On weekends, he would return to his grandpa’s house to drink a beer and watch the ocean. He understood then why the old man loved the place: the peace and quiet was overwhelming but appreciated. Being away from everything but that soothing sound was just perfect. But then, four months before the end of the year, he began going there with a girl he had met in one of the tours. She lived in a town close to his and would visit him when out of work. It was the first time he fell in love for real and knew she was in love with him.
When working, he noticed he didn’t thought of it as he did it. He would think of her or of his plans, which were slowly forming in his mind. He had realized that, despite everything he thought, his parents were right. He did need to educate himself more to be better, not just to earn more money but to afford to live, as he wanted to do it. He had even thought of living with his girlfriend but that was another project, for the future.
He told his parents of his realization that learning more was necessary to him, in order to know more about what he loved and to live a good life too. They were happy tear it but not so happy when he told them he had found an aquarium, in a medium size city about two hours away by car. It was not that they wanted him to go but that they wanted the very best for them. He explained the aquarium had a school where he could study marine biology. They actually had at least some ten more careers to choose from, which was very interesting.
One weekend he was free from work, he took his girlfriend and his parents to the aquarium. The place was beautiful and they were all amazed that they had never really known about the place. The lady that gave them a guided visit, explained that the school had been open only for the past two years but that many students that wanted to study the careers they taught were very happy with their presence. Even the zoo area of the compound was much better than any other he had seen: the pools were very big and the machines were kept away from the animals, so not to disturbing. They didn’t have large mammals, as they believed they were better off in the ocean.
So when the year drew to a close, Ari told his bosses all about him studying and not being able to work anymore. They were both very happy for him and wished him all the best. He had been an exemplary employee in both places, and people had learned to appreciate his work thoroughly.
Then came Christmas. They all had a big party in his grandpa’s old house and there was no one sad or thoughtful. Everyone smiled and enjoyed the food, the company and the prospects that the future was putting on the table.