Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Swimming with Dolphins

Dolphins leap through my subconscious. Maybe it is their singing, just beneath the surface, that calls me over and over to the ocean.

When my daughter, a watery woman-child, was conceived, I saw a vision of two dolphins, side by side, playfully clearing the water together and re-entering in one splash.

Visiting Florida’s SeaWorld, I watched the captive dolphins pacing in their relatively little pool. My stepson got to pet one. Martyrs for their race, they let humans fall in love with them, feel close to them, and so maybe humans will do what they can to quit ruining their watery world.

Later, standing on the beach, I waved at a wild pod jumping in the distance, skirting the shoreline.

In Mexico there are dolphin “adventures” where, for a substantial fee, you can be in the pool with them. “Certified Humane Treatment.” Yes, circuses & prisons say they’re humane too. You can get a kiss from a dolphin, ride on its back and enjoy various other tricks. Each time I’ve been there my wish to be with the dolphins crashed on the rocks of their debasement.

Then, on the Big Island, while kayaking to snorkel in Kealakekua Bay, we were paddling in the midst of a pod in the wild. Some other kayakers had already jumped into the water to get closer. But that wish to be closer was crashing again. I didn’t want to be part of a pack of paparazzi, invading their space. The others reported up to a dozen dolphins, including four babies.

I rocked gently in the boat and watched them skim up for air in groups of 3 or 4. Their sleek movements cut the water cleanly. I was the only one who didn’t get out of my boat. I told myself, “If they want me to come in with them, they’ll swim in front of my boat.” They didn’t. That crashing of my wish to know them against my wish to avoid intruding on them hurt my heart.

Maybe someday they will come to me.

--by Terra Rafael

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