It’s wintertime when I go on a short visit to friends in Florida. Equipped with my trusty neoprene wetsuit, I stop on the beach before entering the frigid Gulf of Mexico waters off Siesta Key in Sarasota. Since the water temp is below 60 degrees, I have the sea to myself that day. Silently I think, “Today I’m going to prove to myself whether or not there really is any magic in this hard life, here on Earth. I once thought there was. But lately, I seriously doubt that we are all One, like I once felt as a child. I’m sick of doubting It, so I’m going to test it, right here, right now. I’m going prove it … or forget it! I’m going to call dolphins to come and play with me, using only my mind.”
Having said this proclamation to myself, I enter the chilly waters that glow with a silvery sheen, this windless day in February.
I’ve been wanting to perform this experiment for some time, ever since I heard about inter-species communication. In the water, I am absolutely alone. Not even a seagull flies in the sky that winter day. What better chance will I ever have, I think, to prove the strength of a person’s mental powers. I decide to use a mantra a friend had told me was “the most sacred words ever uttered.” Debbie, my flutist friend, had told me, “Om Namah Shivaya is the ancient sound-tool people have used for eons to attain inner peace.”
So today is the day, I think. Dolphins or bust, here I come!
I’m in the silvery surface of the water, swimming with my head above the water, just barely making a ripple as I swim languorously away from the white powdery beach that, even in the cold, felt deliciously soft under my feel.
For a short while I’m slowly swimming head-above water, repeating “Om Namah Shivaya” and … lo and behold I see a familiar dark dorsal fin. Just a flash. But instantly I know it’s a dolphin. In wintertime many porpoise can be seen off all beaches on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida. Siesta Key is famous for the hoards of nomadic cetaceans passing by from October to March. With all certainty, I know I’ve been spotted by this dolphin. A loner. A scout.
Having always held the belief, as many other people might feel as well, that I’m a reincarnated porpoise (un huh) I swim right toward where I saw the animal cut the surface to take a breath. A few more minutes pass and I see, off to my right, then to my left, another jump and another … further away. The scout must have called to its pod. So I gently, easily, mantra-ing silently, swim in one direction, then another, following the jumps I see here and there, repeating to myself the odd new sound of Om Namah Shivaya … my mind clear, not thinking anything other than wanting to meet some new friends, these watery mammals. All I want is to be with them. I continue repeating this simple meditation phrase that Debbie said means “the true connection” between all that is, has been, and ever will be.
Further from where I’m at I see yet another solitary fin cut the surface, so I swim gently, resolutely, toward that next spot. This goes on for some time, with me not holding any other thought in my mind except true connection, over and over, wanting It, calling for It … and suddenly I realize—they are here!
Using only the silent sound in my mind as a beacon, I have invited them close, with thoughts alone—and boy, do they come. Suddenly many dolphins have appeared, darting and shooting like torpedoes all around me, checking me out. Now the fun begins! Not wanting to intrude upon their space, or frighten then, or give them misleading promptings that I might be one of those odd people who want to commune with wild critters just to tell others I’ve done so (chuckle) … I swim to a nearby sandbar and stand up. I do this to make myself as non-threatening as possible. In the clear, waist high shallow waters less than a hundred yards off Siesta Beach, I stand in an utter state of amazement.
All around me now, a gang of dolphins are rushing, jumping, wrestling, tumbling, screeching, laughing. I feel compelled to communicate, so I start making a high‑pitched animal-like sound, a song with one word, what comes out is something like: babeee-babeee-babeee. I continue this high-pitched effort as I swish the water with my hands … just to join in with the merriment, I suppose. The commotion around me does not stop for a second. I’m the center of a dolphin vortex. Individual dolphins appear in many different shades of grey, greenish-grey, blue-grey, as they jump up, hurl themselves out of the water’s crests, sticking their gleaming grey heads out of the water to look at me, laughing, evidently as curious, as intrigued as I am, then swoosh by on their backs to get a better look at me but none touching or coming closer than three feet of where I stand, bent and churning the surface with my hands, singing my queer babee-call.
Soon they grow more wild with their games. They wrestle in twos and threes as they speed around me bouncing each other, playing noisily, singing, laughing … and then … they grow more rambunctious as I stand, thrilled and unbelieving they are so natural around me as I watch several pair off, rolling and hugging each other in obvious coupling motions as they run pell-mell around me in circles. Some spectacular dolphin penises flash by me as they pass, amazing me at their size, more than the alarm I feel at the sharpness and proximity of their teeth.
I am, you can imagine, transported to another mental state, another dimension.
I forget who and what I am. By this time, it seems I am totally with them and of them. The animals’ carnival antics have been going on for some time, with me standing on the sandbar, swishing the water, calling my inane song of one-word, one-pitch repeated, babee-babee-babee, and watching. Yet sublimely happy to be accepted by them. Watching, but not wanting them to get any closer. Their teeth, which I see when they laugh and sing, are much more dangerous than I’d expected, frighteningly long and pointed. Their bodies are much larger in real life than I ever imagined, up close and personal as I am. Before, I’d only seen dolphins from a bridge, the deck of a boat, or in an aquarium. But it isn’t their teeth or my friends’ increasingly aggressive behavior that seeps through my ecstatic state. It’s the cold
The bitter reminder of winter bites through my wetsuit telling me, reminding me, that I must listen. My shivering body resists, but only when I can’t take it any longer do I tell myself it’s time to go.
I turn from my friends to face the land, reluctant and sad that I must leave them. The sight that meets my eyes shocks me.
Unknown to me, behind my vision and up on the beach, hundreds of people have gathered on the shoreline. The walkers on Siesta Beach have been watching the incredible sight of what they might have mistaken for a wild animal-trainer practicing her tricks. Quickly I turn away from the people on the shore. They are repulsive to me. People! Like a line of scavengers, they appear so dark, so still, so menacing. To me, they represent fear, mistrust, conflict. Hurt. I’m scared to go back to the beach, but know the cold drives me more than my fear of these people.
Truly, I’m scared to meet my own kind and desperately want to stay with the dolphins. These creatures that are so jolly and fun filled, they have this entire, vast watery world in which to frolic and play. No wonder they appear so accepting, so playful, so filled with carefree joy. If a genie appears right this minute I won’t hesitate to wish to become one with this pod, my new friends. But I know I have to go back. I have to return to my human life. I am a land person. I have to live among my fellow humans on terra firma, or at least on a boat whenever I can leave land to be closer to my new pod.
Resigned to my human fate, I slowly walk backwards, taking tiny steps with my back to the bothersome creatures on the beach. They crush closer to the shore. I refuse to look at them. I want to remain with my watery buddies as long as I possibly can.
The dolphins stay with me, all the way, as I stand upright, walking backwards, a single tiny step at a time, till the surf won’t allow my friends to accompany me any further. One by one they turn, and retreat away from me because the sea floor has become too shallow. I stand still and watch the last dolphin turn from me and jump through a breaking wave, and disappear beneath the glassine surface.
Only then do I turn toward shore. With eyes cast to the sandy beach in front of me, seeing only shells and seaweed that have washed up on shore, I walk the remaining few feet of gentle surf that tickles the beach.
Without a word to anyone I pass the silent crowd with my eyes focused on the sand. An older, well dressed woman rushes up to me and touches my arm, “Are you—?” I raise my eyes and look right into her moist blue eyes and say without malice, “I can’t talk right now, sorry.”
Then I continue walking across the beach until I reach my car in the parking lot, turn the engine on, and take off in silence, without engaging anyone. Alone with my elevated thoughts. Alone with my wanting to be what I am not. Thinking how much I so want to be with my dolphin friends, and not be stuck in my own skin.