Whale of a Time

On this snowy New Year’s Day, though I do love the snow, I think about the warmth of Hawaii, and the humpback whales, who are there now.  It is their time to mate and to calf, having made their 6,000 mile trek from Alaska, where they eat all summer.

This story takes place a few years ago off the big island of Hawaii.

I am on a boat with my good friends, Carlos and Margaret Eyles. Carlos has come to take some whale pictures. Margaret and I, to experience the beautiful cobalt blue of the water and to see whatever wildlife shows up. We see a whale breach about 200 yards starboard. Margaret and I are hot, so we jump in to cool off. She swims off in one direction, and I go in another.

Often, I have stayed under water for as long as I can, to hear the whales singing far away. But I have always dreamed of hearing them sing close to me, to feel the vibration of it. Only males sing, and they all sing the same song.  All over the world, the same song. They change it over time. The song at the beginning of the winter is quite different than the one at the end of winter.  They don’t sing all summer, while they eat, and when the song starts up again the following winter, it sounds the same as the year before, and then it changes, a phrase at a time,  A song from this year would be unrecognizable 5 years from now.
I have also dreamed of having eye contact with a whale, an inter-species connection with something so large and so ancient. They are known to be larger than anything on earth ever.  They are bigger than the largest known dinosaur…the size of 30 large elephants.

I look down, and see something as big as an 18 wheeler going by about 200 feet below me. It keeps passing and passing….and passing. How can it be so big? …and passing. Still passing! It is followed closely by a Volkswagen van. A mom and calf. I am ecstatic to see these shadows below me. I listen to them talking to each other. The frequencies are as high and as low as I can hear. Then an even bigger shape appears below me. It begins to float upward. I am full of anticipation as it nears.

I am struck by the enormity of it, and my excitement becomes slightly tainted by fear. Its size is almost beyond comprehension.  If he keeps coming up, and doesn’t want me here, I am toast. If he doesn’t see me, and hits me accidentally, I am toast. It keeps coming up, and my awareness goes to my breath, which suddenly sounds quite loud through my snorkel. Then louder, Louder and LOUDER! I am hyperventilating. I try to calm myself and surrender to the experience, letting go of fear and settling into love.  I am afraid. Ok, self, what is the worst that could happen? I could die. Are you willing to die for this experience? Um…Yes! Yes, I am. I then go directly into my heart and let go of all fear, because….what a way to go! I know, stupid, right? Maybe. It is such a strange feeling – being on the edge of love and fear – and going back and forth between the two. I succeed in remaining in my heart, and am just beaming love to this whale.

WH0004

photo by Carlos Eyles

The whale is fully in sight now and still coming toward me. Just when it seems I am about to end up on this whale’s back as it rises beneath me, he does this very slow, very deliberate balletic Tai Chi move, missing my face with his fin by inches. He circles me five times, enveloping and infusing me with direct, focused eye to eye contact, as I keep turning to meet his gaze. I am transfixed. My Soul awakens, and all walls come down. I find myself melting into this whale. It is all there is in the world in this moment – the connection between us. He comes closer still with exquisite grace, and slowly turns over, so we are belly to belly. I am not that much bigger than his eye.  I am close enough to touch, but I do not. I feel such love for this whale, that I begin to cry, which doesn’t really work with a snorkel, so I contain the love in my body and continue to beam it to the whale.

I am needed on the boat, so I begin to swim away. The whale follows me, still belly to belly. Just as I reach the boat, he vanishes. I guess he was seeing me home. I got back on the boat, and burst into tears.

Margaret had also cried, having swum with the mom and calf.

Later in the day, there is a second group of whales, the same distance away as the first.

Carlos and I jump in. They approach us. They dance with each other. It is a gentle, sensuous dance with movements I do not know.  The only thing I have to compare this to, again, is ballet and Tai Chi. It is so slow and graceful.  How can these giant creatures be so graceful?!  There is no jerkiness or wasted gesture. The pace is smooth and intentioned.  It is peaceful and loving. I am struck by their beauty, and feel honored to witness their romance.  Another whale joins the dance, which adds a competitive element between two males.  The energy changes.  I begin to feel tense, as the female puts me between herself and one of the males, as if to protect herself from the rivalry. Soon though, both males turn upside down and start singing to her. She settles down and places herself horizontally under their vertical bodies. The sound is strangely haunting, but very loud. I feel as if there are huge wind chimes inside my heart and lungs. I am stunned and unable to move as I am filled with vibrations of bliss. I am needed on the boat again, so I leave the song, but it stays with me to this day. On the way back, the wind on our wet bodies is cold. Margaret looks at my blue lips, goose bumped skin and uncontrollable shivering, and says, “You look freezing.”

“I so don’t care,” I reply smiling. We laugh until it hurts.

I believe a healing took place in my lungs that day, and two lifelong dreams fulfilled.

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42 thoughts on “Whale of a Time

    • I am so glad they led you there. Although I miss you here, it is such a perfect place for you…and we can cross the rainbow bridge!

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  1. Wow… I can’t even imagine how fantastic that experience must have been to live. You are brave, and filled with so much love! I saw manatees from a distance the other month and THAT seemed super amazing to me, I bet being around whales is just… beyond, beyond, beyond. Thanks for the story!

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    • Thanks! It was amazing, and yes “beyond, beyond, beyond!” Manatees are definitely on my bucket list. I would love to interact with them. They seem so loving.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Exquisite description, Mary. As always. Love to imagine how the whales would write about it in their blogs! “She was so full of love, my huge size was not big enough to contain it – ‘thought I would explode!” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mary. You make our species proud!

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    • Wow, thank you, Kris! I wonder too what he might have told his friends about the experience! Haha. I hope my interactions with other species juices them as much as they do me. My wish is that other people would love other species enough to take care of them, and protect them from all we do to destroy them. Thank you for your compliments, Kris!

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  3. Mary, I can’t find the right place to respond to your blog. Want you to know how much I loved this episode! How lucky you were to have such a deeply meaningful experience with these wonderful creatures! Thanks so much for sharing this. Much Love and a Very Happy New Year, Linda Smarrella

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  4. Beautifully described, Mary. You are, indeed, fortunate and blessed. I’ve only seen them from the surface and the water was way too cold and rough off the mouth of the Columbia River or I would have been overboard in a heartbeat. You’re beautiful.

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    • Thanks Dennis! It was an amazing day. Have you been to Hawaii? The water is much warmer than the mouth of the Columbia! It is so nice to go there in winter – have a break from the cold and the snow we used to have.

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  5. Mary, thank you for the whale tale. I knew that on the New Year there would be a tale to read. What a lovely tale it is.
    I particularly like the way to talked yourself out of the fear of total annihilation by the tail of the whale. Or the big mouth. Or the little fin. What a great experience of the wild wonder of this lovely place we call home. Thank you for sharing your whale tale. It makes the all of it all the more interesting.

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    • Thank you for this comment, Michele. Yes, it was quite a little inner argument at first. His fin was bigger than me! I love the phrase you used, “wild wonder,” because that really sums it up. It IS a “lovely place we call home,” and the all of everything is so fantastic!

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  6. OH WOW!!! This was incredible to read!!! I feel like I am rushing on adrenaline and love right now because the way you wrote that really made me feel like I was experiencing it! I love how you said ‘am I willing to die for this experience?’ and answered yes which then helped you to calm down a bit… I saw the huge dark shadow swimming below me and everything. You didn’t just tell the story, you took us there with you. I can only imagine what an epic day that was for you… and continues to be each time you remember it. Those whales sent you beams of love and now you are beaming those same rays out to us, your readers, to share in the love! Loved it!!! Your energy is obviously so in line with that of mother earth that you flawlessly fit into the great ecosystem of life – so cool and definitely an inspiration to me! Keep being you xxxx

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    • Wow, thank you so much! You too, in your posts seem very in line with the Mother, and the great ecosystem of life. Thank you for saying what you did. It really was an epic day, and the feeling of mega wind chimes in my heart, is still in there. There is something about inter-species connections that touche me very deeply. I love your posts, Liv. You are inspiring. xxxx

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  7. My Goddess Mary, what an experience.

    I feel the whale’s love from so far away. And the bliss. How extraordinary. I have been on boats to see dolphins and whales. Once a baby whale, a calf, came really close to the boat. it was ginormous.

    I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins and whales. One day i will.

    In the meantime, now I have this post to come back to, to feel the beauty of the Whale’s love and kindness.

    Wish that humans could learn from the Whales.

    Thank you, Mary.

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    • It was, Debbie – such an experience. You are so kind with your words. What a nice moment it must have been to see the calf so close to the boat. They can be so curious. I’m sure it sensed love from you. I really hope you get to swim with dolphins and whales, and when you do, I would love to hear about it. I love them both so much. Have you been to Hawaii?

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      • s/he was so close to the boat. it was a long time ago, but I’ve never forgotten it.
        two times i was in the hawaii airport for stopover, and never went out. go figure!
        the east coast of Australia, i believe, has similar energy as some parts of hawaii. 🙂

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      • I do hope you get to Hawaii. It is so worth it. I would love to get to the east coast of Australia as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you read this, Ka! It was such a phenomenally profound moment. So glad to share it with you!
      Aloha ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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