The Past Decade & Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser photographing blacktip sharks in Aliwal Shoal, South Africa. As the new year lies before us and with it a new decade, reflecting on the past is a process that heals and helps us learn and grow. The future remains uncertain and this, along with imminent change, remains two of the only certainties. I received this well written piece from a good friend and fellow conservationist and underwater photographer, Mike Fraser. Mike was one of the co-founders of Shark Life and spends most of his spare time in the waters of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mozambique and more. He is a water baby extraordinaire, and with his lovely life, Val, also a talented photographer, they spend hours documenting the beauty of underwater wonderlands they explore. Upon reflecting on the past decade, Mike wrote this:
“In the calm pre-dawn of this, my 20089th day on Planet Earth, I was thinking about the major events of the past ten years. My mind drifted to the first line of Yeats’ poem Vacillations – “Between extremities Man runs his course.” I’m sure one could relate these words to any decade in history, but they seem relevant to what we’ve been through since we celebrated the New Millennium with fanfare, fireworks and flowing champagne. In our collective, connected way we looked forward to a decade of sustained prosperity driven by technology. We raised a glass to world peace and thanked God that the gremlins the tech gurus foretold had not plunged us into darkness. Typically, the cosy, secure future we foresaw was not about to happen.
Instead a range of media allowed us to experience real-time extremes we’d never dreamed of. We watched in horror as icons of power and prosperity were brought down by cunning fanatics. We witnessed brutal acts of retribution and human folly, purportedly done with God’s blessings. Was it the decade of the smart phone or of the smart bomb?
We witnessed greed and fear on a grandiose scale. The past 96000 hours made more billionaires than any similar period in history. At the same time many saw their life savings evaporate as property prices and stock markets tanked. Was it perhaps the decade of deceit, default and deficit? Yet, as centuries-old financial institutions crashed, countries you’d never heard of flourished.
While we speculated about saving our planet, Mother Nature reminded us of her raw destructive power. So we also got to experience compassion in the aftermath of terrible disasters. We wept as miners were rescued or tsunami survivors were plucked from the waters.
I suppose man has always searched in vain for the safe and comfortable middle ground. But as Yeats alluded, that’s not how life turns out. As always, we have to keep running, striving, innovating to go on living. We have to accept that the pace of change is increasing and that in life little is certain. We have to be humble and treat adversity as an opportunity to learn and grow. Then we can savour the precious moments we have to do what we love most or share with those we love.
I’ll drink a toast to life and wish that your Christmas and the New Year be full of those precious moments.
All the best,