Monday, July 16, 2012

My Occasional Obsession

I sometimes have this fantasy/"day-mare"(?) that I am on a little tiny boat in the middle of the ocean, just a speck in the incomprehensible vastness.  I look down to see a dark area in the water.  What is it?  It's hard to tell.  But then I realize it isn't just an area, it's the form of something rising closer to the surface.  Terror strikes my heart as I realize the enormity of this thing and I'm rapidly feeling smaller and smaller as it approaches.  It's the length of three Great White Sharks.  And even though it's harmless, I find myself paralyzed.  Wishing I could reach out and touch it, but too small and puny to reach it, and even if I could reach it, too bewildered to do so.  It's a blue whale.

Ooh I want to see one so bad.  That's one way I sometimes dream of it happening.  But sometimes I just imagine I get to go out with experts on a boat and they can tell me all about it.  I don't really care how it happens as long as I get to see one and I don't drown or get lost.  I sort of tucked this dream away and had forgotten about it for a while and then when I was at the beach the other week and saw those dolphins, I rediscovered my fascination.  Just the idea of animals who have some things in common with me; the fact that they're mammals, they're intelligent and playful, and yet they are so at home in a world that is full of danger and mystery for me.  The ocean is foreign and beautiful and it makes me nervous.  The thrill of just seeing dolphins at a distance but in person was enough to make my whole week.  What would it be like to see them up close, or to see a whale?  Not to mention a blue whale?

There is something about scale that can create such a humbling thrill for us humans.  We long to reverence something and to feel incomprehensibly small at times.  I've felt it out West, surrounded by mountains or overlooking a valley.  It's why we visit the Grand Canyon or the Redwoods.  It's why I want to see a Blue Whale.  I can't wrap my brain around it.  It weighs more than 3,300x my weight.  I could probably swim through its arteries.  Its heart only beats once every ten seconds.

I'm sure I'd experience enough of a thrill just seeing any whale or being close to a dolphin in the ocean. That would make me so happy.  But I'm pretty sure one of the biggest dreams I've dreamed is to see the biggest animal that ever lived.

P.S. How cool is it that in all of evolutionary history - and speaking of scale, take a minute to review how LONG evolutionary history IS - WE are alive at the same time as the largest animal that has EVER lived on Earth!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back From Vacation

Last week was vacation with my family.  It was superb!  What can be said about the ocean?  I still felt its rhythm as I fell asleep for days after leaving.  One day while we were swimming Ben saw dolphins on the horizon.  (He has better than 20/20 vision)  As we swam, they kept getting closer and closer.  My brother, Taylor, and I both began to swim in their direction.  But then they were just close enough that I was suddenly struck with terror.  What would I do when I got there?  What would they do when I got there?  I was swimming toward WILD animals in a place where they were at home and I was utterly helpless.  I stopped where I was and just watched.  A few seconds later Taylor stopped, apparently with the same thoughts going through his mind.  I frantically scanned the bobbing waves and my heart pounded as I saw them playing and jumping out of the water, slapping their tails against the water.  Taylor went under and came back up and yelled like a little kid "You guys!  You can hear them under water!!"  Ben and I immediately ducked under the water to hear the squeaks and chatters of the dolphins.  We watched them a while longer as they lingered and played.  When they slapped their tails on the water, we slapped our boogie boards back.  Taylor tried to squeak back to them under the water.

It was good to be a kid again for a week.  But coming back was all the harder for it I'm afraid.  I came back to life decisions and situations too weighty and personal to go into any detail here.  I have at least four major areas of my life that I'm seriously trying to work on and plan ahead for and I feel like all of them are too much to go posting on the internets.  All I can say is, all things considered, stuff could be a lot worse.  I'm so glad I have Ben and a home and that I get to watch my little niece who I love dearly.  All I can do is my best.  The end.