Lessons From the Ocean Current

a he nani ke ao nei. Behold this lovely world.

Whales hear with their bones, says an article in my inbox. I watch the sun rise over the jungle and the great blue bowl of the sea, while toiling with the inner ear bone of an ancient Sperm Whale.

Rocking now, even while on dry land with the residue of the ocean currents sucking me out and then rolling me in. The force of one great wave ripping over my head and like lomi, sending a strong and fluid forearm down the length of my back body, shoulders to toes. Nothing feels like that water.

Nothing compares with its gentle strength. Its fierce embrace… its dangerous seduction.

“To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.” ~ David Whyte

Slippery and mysterious denizens of the deep — all number of creatures that terrify and excite lie underneath the vast and sea foam-tipped crystal blue.

What does she carry hidden? asked the raised hair on my skin at moments more-than-human where the underside of Her toys with the one of me that must know it all, to control it all.

Learn from me, says She, speaking to the part of my soft animal body that remains her child first, despite the shimmering green and the sienna red dirt, and the kissing sun on my brown skin, and the wild air.

There is a part of us that does remember the sea, as we remember the stars, in spite of ourselves.

Hawaii. This place where the sleepy parts of me — those that hide under where concrete covers the song of the land and there is no soil for burying — are stirred to the bone… roused through flower scents, little feral piglets, and Koki frog lullabies.

This place that births through fire and threatens the very patch of land I find myself nestled and fed. Where the ocean is a force that demands reciprocity or else.

Where our kuleana — our sacred duty, is like the ocean current, subtle and strong, and underneath, hidden and a gift, and only reconciled by releasing the struggle of everyday to glide along the path of least resistance. Everything else, and every other effort, is futile and exhausting.

I swam a mile out into all my questions alongside the Spinner Dolphins, gliding and turning, taking deep breaths and diving under… to listen with my bones to their clicks and warbles, and the deeper, more resonant call of their cetacean brethren, the Kohola, the Humpback whales.

At first nothing — just the far distant sandy bottom, the occasional decaying tree stump and splash of color, and then farther out still unfathomable blue, and little rays of light like filament reaching down and up at once, linking the light with the dark, the known with the unknown.

A vulnerable feeling out there so far from shore, with no bottom in sight. No sound but breath and heartbeat, dolphin and whale.

And then, from the dark, a faint, barely noticed shadow. The clicking grows louder and you know they are coming. That they are here. I strain my eyes to see. My body reaches for them.

The shadow grows in strength and is joined by hundreds of other shadows, rising in perfect synchronicity silent and stunning in their grace but for the ever-louder cacophony of clicks, piercing to the human ear, and familiar all at once.

A stream of disc-like bubbles rise on the sound and tickle my bare and water-logged skin. I bask in the touch of dolphin breath and the thought and feeling release bubbles of my own in small chuckles, then giggles, then big belly laughs.

Water fills my mask now and I pop my head up to clear it. Urgent and quick. They come closer and I learn to swim like them, undulating my body, feet together like a tail, and I feel for a moment their power. The root of my legs up underneath my heart sending me forward with grace.

This is how it was… this is what it feels like. A homecoming.

They are all around me now — hundreds of them up for air and a spin. I catch the eye of one close and feel in my bones his intelligence, his empathy, his wily humor and good nature.

A baby spirals up and out testing the measure of her strength, tasting the air and the sun. A couple below me are making love in curved envoys and warbled voices. And some simply pass by —  another day in the bay. Another visit. This is the way it has been, and will be.

Just as they arose, they return, in great swooping arcs back down to the dark deep that is their second home, just as comfortable for them as their first.

It was their choice, after all… to return. Showing us, again and again in their watery ways, the great ocean rhythms of life — so maddeningly ours, and yet not ours to own at all.

To participate in this rhythm is to find the middle of doing and being, of moving forward, and letting go, of speaking and listening, and like the dolphins we too are called to swim our gifts forward in fluid choreography, interdependent and free.

This is the play of in-breath and the out-breath. The high tide and the low. The one and the many, and the irrefutable interrelatedness of that paradox.

There is grace there — right there in the midline,

and life,

and meaning,

and majesty.

a he nani ke ao neiBehold this lovely world, sings the whale in the distance, and all number of down-and-under creatures listen and agree.