August 14, 2017


Letter #1

How to See Beauty in Life


Few days ago I was drinking coffee on my balcony and looking at the city from above.   I felt very peaceful and grateful to God for my health, my loving family, my friends, my beautiful apartment…I have a beautiful life!!!!!

It is very easy for me to see beauty in my life; the heroes are people who see the beauty of life while in a dreadful situation.

In 1986 I went to Diego Garcia, an atoll, part of the Chagos islands, in the Indian Ocean. The atoll has a big lagoon in the middle and a strip of land around.

Diego Garcia belongs to England and is rented by the United States.  The US Navy has a base there that is strategically important due to its closeness to the Middle East.  No villages, no local people live there. The lagoon is home of several Merchant Marine ships.  Each ship has everything a battalion of Marines needs for a whole month.

Life there was simple: good accommodations, great food prepared on site with fresh ingredients flown in from India and Singapore, great weather, but the soldiers missed their family and fun activities at home

I was sent there to teach the soldiers Marine Biology and to do a survey of the coral situation in the lagoon. The UK Commander there made an official complaint to the Pentagon that the ships in the lagoon were destroying the coral present there.

I enjoyed immensely the coral reef there: better even than the Great Barrier of Australia!    The fringing reef on the outside of the atoll was doing very well.  I did a survey of the coral in the lagoon and found out that the few species of coral that could and did live in the lagoon were doing very well.  In my report I pointed out that the difference between the coral inside the lagoon and the one outside was due to water circulation and wave action.  In the lagoon, where water circulation and wave action are low, very few species of coral can survive.

One evening, I attended a presentation given by the US Base Commander.  Unfortunately I forgot his name.   He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 10 years.

He said that probably many Americans think that prisoners spent most of their time in a corner of the cell, curled up and crying.  Not true for him and for most of them, for the survivors.  He saw joy and beauty in a bird that every morning would come and rest on a branch of the little tree in front of his window. They all were busy trying to communicate with knocks on the wall.  A knock on the wall was a great joy: John is alive! They share jokes and after a while they gave numbers to the jokes so they just have to post a number and everybody would laugh.

For the rest of my stay I did not hear anybody complaining about living in a remote island.  The talk was a great lesson to all of us!





Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload