How far can we go?

the Bajau lesson

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A life on the water

Can you imagine being able to, at least for one day, going beyond your limits, beyond your comfort zone? The Bajau people do it on daily bases. They adapted themselves to a more watery world. They live in stilt houses and fish underwater for up to 5 minutes on one breathe.

What’s the trick about it? Well it’s a simple one. They only dive once they are totally relaxed.

“I focus my mind on breathing. I only dive once I’m totally calm” says the man, who goes into a trance-like state before entering the water.“You have to be warm and chill down – you don’t want to hyperventilate yourself before taking your last breath.”

When men become fishes

They do not own land, holiday houses or apartments. They are everywhere and nowhere; they need no money; they know no time; they are indebted to no one, aside from their God and themselves. No one knows when they are coming, where they are coming from, and where they are headed. Their rhythm is determined by day and night, ebb and flow, rainy times and dry times. Their children are born on the water, grown up on the water, marry on the water, and finally die on the water.

The Bajau are the enigmatic, peaceful, shy and friendly people, who are constantly avoiding everything that do not float. They know no fear. They even remain out at sea during storms, at most seeking protection between the bizarre still roots of the mangroves when things really get rough.

When the sun sinks into the mirror-like surface of the sea at dusk, groups of boats can be found closely packed together at anchor in the bays of the islands. The murmur of hushed words wafts over the water, news is exchanged in a relaxed manner, goods are exchanged, and gifts are given. Those who no longer have sugar are given sugar; those who have no luck in fishing are given fish; those who no longer have anything to smoke are given cigarettes.

The next day the Bajau float again and as usual dive deeply, going once more beyond their human limits. They need nothing else in order to be happy. Apparently, paradise has many faces.

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