I resonate with the emotions and sentiments of a river, the river of life. My life started at a point/ source so pure, so pristine and in the tender years whilst I am nudged and I am in a hurry to descend the slopes my path is somewhat decided by gravity, valleys and later on, sturdy river banks fastened by dense formidable forests [in my life, they represent parents, other family members, early teachers and even values and faith]. With that foundation, my strength grows and my character and preferences in terms of currents flows and I can now impact the various beings that come my way in forming clefs and crevasses and in moments of brash foolishness I dig so deep that I fall. But even that fall I can derive courage, strength and find beauty akin to that of a water fall. But also, along this flow of life, I am constantly reminded and nudged back into my path by strong boulders [role models, new inspiration, friends ] and kept bay by guardians , roots of trees which keep cliffs and slopes from burying me [ guardians]. Occasionally I dare to chance upon a new path and diverge [YSEALI for instance] in hopes of enriching my very own emotional, mental diversity and capacity.
This week at Broward has been just a momentary glimpse of just that:- “ Bagaikan aur dengan tebing: As the bamboo and the riverbank is a Malay proverb illustrating the somewhat symbiotic relationship between a bamboo plant and he river bank where the former holds the bank in place and in return the bank provides suitable base/ home for the plant. The old Malay proverb came to mind as I sat reflecting upon the past week of my YSEALI journey. Week 2 in Broward County and I could not help but ponder” How did I get here?” It was easy to lose myself in thought as Kathy and I was taken around some of the Broward sites by Paul Krashefski [ the amazing Broward County staff working on Land Stewardship who also doubles as the in house photographer and I kid you not when I say he is brilliant at it]. Taking in the breath-taking inter- coastal ecosystem view where mangroves in shades of green and highlights of white and red caresses the ever fragile earth beneath the somewhat symbiotic relationship came to mind. The mangrove holding the earth in place with its protruding roots, whilst sturdy holds a playful tinge of boastfulness as it reminds us of its unwavering commitment to battle invading seas. Man, in this instance, that of Florida State and Broward County have taken proactive steps in protecting almost all of 2/3 of the ever sensitive wetland ecosystem evidenced through the various County and State Parks which define the region. As a contrast to these magnificent soft structures which provide natural coastal defence, the landscape of Broward County [and I guess other parts of Florida] is unfortunately scarred by various sea walls and water pumps to mitigate and prevent the breach of sea waters [ but one can hardly blame the sometimes furious seas], an action much needed and unavoidable to safeguard the safety and economic interest of dwellers of this vertically/ altitude challenged region. One could ask, “Why then continue to build?” as it is prevalent that coastal development is ongoing. Anyway, whilst I may delve into this another day, it is comforting to learn that Broward County has climate change/ sea level rise mitigation and adaptation measures incorporated in their land use policies by regulating required built designs and dimensions in addition to proactively engaging players in risk management.
Mid-week at Broward, Samantha [the Assistant Director of the Broward County Environmental and growth Management Department] had kindly arrange for a meeting with Michael Owen, an Environmental Attorney for the County and it was pretty awesome to have some legal insight and exchanges with respect to issues ranging from public interest litigation, sly noncompliance issues, inter jurisdictional tug of war and to some extent some level of power play in the sphere of law making in this region. One thing is definitely reinforced, there is no such thing as common sense. It was heart-warming to learn that a career in environmental law is actively pursued in this region. Kathy and I also got to attend a eco school award under the P3 “ preserve for Planet and Prosperity”, an award ceremony to acknowledge students who adopt and galvanise an environmental cause and teachers who encourage these creative flows-. These KIDS are amazing and I hope their passion for preserving our planet only grows. [I need to stop slacking and figure out my next course/ bend]-
And then there was the trip to Gainesville- without a doubt, the highlight of the week and for this I must thank Kathy who was the brain behind this trip to meet a renowned shark scientist, Rd. Gavin Naylor. Kathy and I had taken an overnight Red Coach after a full day of work and the P3 event with a layover in Orlando and we finally got to Gainesville at 7 am. Gosh, we were definitely not prepared for the morning chill that greeted us, a stark contrast to the humid and loving warmth of Fort Lauderdale. Brrrrr . . . it was going to be a very long day with another overnighter at 11pm back to Fort Lauderdale but it was totally worth it. Why???
The answer is plain and simple- Rd. Gavin Naylor.
Pleasant, charming and imaginably Einstein like professor who promised a particular madness to his methods [thinking at least]. I was blown away by the many enlightening revelations through the numerous topics of discussions which reeled me in and at times kept me at the edge of my seat.
The Professor has been a shark scientist for almost as long as I have walked this planet and his knowledge and perspectives were vast and inter faced with multiple dimensions ranging from Maths, economics, biology, physics, astrophysics, ecology, sociology and the list goes on. Whilst the Natural History Museum [ a brilliant facility staffed with equally brilliant and passionate staff] part of the University of Florida which he is attached to has a CAT scanner which Dr Gavin no doubt has used to better illustrate the layers and biological dimensions of sharks, if I dare say say so, this man’s mind is a CAT scan in itself on the subject matter itself. Ideas seem to be continuously sprouting as the discussions carried on. How blessed the students of University of Florida must feel- [ this blog does no justice to this remarkable person and I may seek to make attempts in possible future blogs but for now, here is a link to learn more- http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/mbes/faculty/naylor.html
Nothing in recent years have left wanting more to get back to school and explore the vastness of knowledge and infinite possibilities out there-
This week I find strong currents forming as I journeyed along rich banks of passionate, driven, humble and knowledgeable individuals whom have entertained my questions, teased my imaginations, questioned my very own goals and most of all added volume to my flow of knowledge. But alas, I fear, the thirst in me is yet to be quenched as I yearn to learn more-
May we all bend, curve, fall, dive in the knowledge that whilst we can’t return to the source, we can shape our paths into what promises to be an infinite sea of opportunity-
I have truly had a very humbling week. Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu- [ May peace be with all]
Note: photographs courtesy of and belong to Paul– oops, sorry I tried at least 8 times but it seems no luck- so, once again sorry for this very bland post-