[originally written 7/30/08]
I just returned from three days at the beach. This was Assateague Beach just east of Chincoteague Island, the sleepy community famous for the wild ponies and Misty of Chincoteague, a children’s book about one of the ponies on the island.
My friend, Brigitte, and I stayed at one of the nicer hotels in the community. I was exhausted and still recovering from a weird health issue that came up earlier in July – one of the main reasons for going to the beach was to soak my body in the healing ocean water. After arriving mid-afternoon, I collapsed on my hotel bed and when Brigitte came back from a bike ride and swim, she encouraged me to go soak myself in the hot tub near the hotel pool. So I did, joining an East Asian-looking couple who were gracious enough to share the tub with me.
We started chatting in the tub and after I mentioned my book, the gentleman informed me that he was very good friends with Jurrian Kamp, the editor of ODE Magazine. As a matter of fact, this man was a founding partner in the magazine. After he heard me describe it, he enthusiastically offered to send Jurrian a copy of my book. I was stunned. How often do I show up in a sleepy vacation community and meet someone who has such connections? I assured him that it would not be an issue for me to send him a copy of my book. From there the conversation wound to various spiritual topics and environmental concerns. Quite a stimulating conversation and opening – all from rising from my nap on the hotel bed!
Brigitte and I saw dolphin pods several different times just off the beach at Assateague. It’s always so amazing to see their dorsal fins surface as they arc their way through the ocean water. Such playful creatures out there so close and yet not too close to the beach. I always wonder what draws them to the shoreline. They could be swimming anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic ocean and yet choose to cavort so close to the beach. Are they curious about us two-leggeds playing in the waves? They certainly know we are there, as sensitive as they are to sound. We make quite a racket in the waves as people scream in delight in the cold water and body surf in the small waves.
I’m convinced the dolphins are fascinated by us and feel a connection to us as many of us feel it with them. Their playfulness. Their intelligence and sensitivity. Such deep curiosity about what’s around them.
I always feel called to swim out there with the dolphins when they are so close to the shore and even tried several summers ago. But I frightened myself when I started swimming so far out and returned back to shore surrendering to my fears instead. I knew they could feel my fear, as easily as someone tastes rain in the air. My emotional vibrations carried through the water probably faster than a sound wave. And I’m certain that I drove them away with my angst.
Years ago I read an essay written by a man who swam with dolphins off the coast of Ireland (in a wetsuit, I’m certain). He shared that there was one dolphin that he regularly swam near off the shore and he learned that the dolphin would accompany him as long as he kept his attention and thoughts of calm, heart-filled emotions focused on the dolphin. But as soon as he started to get distracted and his thoughts went elsewhere, as they are apt to do, the dolphin took off and abandoned him. He related that it was remarkable how quickly the dolphin responded to his shift in consciousness. For this reason, I’m confident that I drove the dolphins away faster that day with my anxiety of swimming so far out in the water away from the security of the shore.
This time though I felt more comfortable and willing to try it but I entered the water when they were already just beyond my beach area, which was too late and they had already moved beyond where I entered the water and, of course, were swimming too fast for me to try to catch up to them. Next time, I’m determined to do it… with a deep sense of love for this fellow creature in my heart instead. What joy that would be – swimming playfully amongst them in the cool ocean waters.