I did not expect to love jelly fish. In fact I had never given them much thought at all. But then, almost ten years ago, I took five-year-old Link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They happened to be hosting a special jellyfish exhibit at the time. We wandered through with our mouths open, completely stunned by the variations in size and the way that the jellyfish moved. I took photographs. They didn’t turn out, except one which was only slightly blurry: the back of Link’s head against the blue tank next to some other child I didn’t know.
It completely failed to show the beauty which captivated Link and kept him sitting still for a very long time.
The jellyfish were beautiful aliens, only they lived right here. But even then, walking through the beauty, I did not know that I would forever love jellyfish. It was not until we came home and my son, who still struggled to speak comprehensible sentences, could not stop talking about the jellyfish. He drew pictures of jellyfish. He talked to his Kindergarten teacher at length. His small vocabulary doubled in a very short span of time. Something about all those earthly aliens opened a door in his brain and he began to find words. I had been so afraid for him, for years. I did not know whether he would be able to manage the challenges of being a teenager or an adult. But by jellyfish light I could see that perhaps he would.
Link is fourteen now. I wrote a post about him yesterday, describing his developing responsibility, reliability, and capability. I can’t credit those things to the jellyfish exhibit, they were his all along, but I still remember the strong sense that by seeing the jellyfish Link’s world had become larger and his brain grew in response.
So any time I see photos of jellyfish, or see them in an aquarium, I think about how much bigger the world is than I expect. I think about possibility and growth. Most of all, I remember that sometimes hope comes from unexpected places.
And that is why today’s post over on Light Stalking 44 Incredible Photographs of Jellyfish made me cry.