On May 1, 2015, I will live in a different house with a different view of the ocean. Olga has said the whales cruise close to the shore there as they make their way north from the lagoon at Guerrero Negro, close enough to see the babies jump and play.
Last night I fell asleep thinking of Guerrero Negro and the baby whale who rested above the water on his mother’s back, offering those of us in the panga (boat) his or her gaze from an innocent blue eye, that eye large and unwavering as it scanned us, the mother whale holding place alongside the boat and near enough for our human hands to reach out and stroke her offspring.
I thought about humans, our distrust of our own species, and tried to imagine myself with an infant or toddler or juvenile child, the child cradled or held by the hand as we approached a gathering of people never previously met. I imagined the stance we might take to observe those strangers—perhaps wearing turbans, feathered headdresses, striped muslin gowns, denim pants with the crotch bagged down to the knees, backward ball caps, pink spiked hair, safety pins laced through lips and/or eyebrows, loin cloths, less than loin cloths, etc.—and if I could or would allow them to touch and run hands over my baby/child/loved one.
I wouldn’t. This kind of behavior is not in my DNA.
Then I tried imagining introducing my offspring to a flock of geese, a family of coyotes or orangutans, a colony of ants, a hillside warren of rabbits, bears (any color or size), alligators, ostriches, elephants, yaks, racoons and any number of other terrestrial creatures.
Imagination failed. Although, I must say, not as dramatically as it failed while visualizing sharing (introducing) my young to strangers of my own species.
Eventually, I drifted into sleep. No dreams come to mind as I write this. If they came, they came quietly and left on tiptoe.
Now, I consider the days until I’ll live at the new location. Will the gray whales still be migrating north with their young—those miraculously inquisitive and trusting creatures? Will I take the time to watch for them, plant a chair of adequate height near the balustraded property edge and rest elbows on the top railing, binoculars in hand? Will I need binoculars if they migrate as near the shore as Olga has indicated? Of course, I may miss the migration north. The weather is unseasonably hot and sightings along the coast occur with frequency according to friends with such views.
Movement. Migration. Trust. How we glide through life currents. How different are lives—from whale to woman to child to Monarch butterfly? First steps. First flights. First breach by a youthful gray whale among Guerrero Negro’s calm waters or from the swells of the blue-gray-green Pacific Ocean.
Later steps and glides and slides—tempos at passages ever swifter—until days seemingly pass as if seconds, months as if days.
At 68, recent years are a tumble of formed bricks at my feet, bricks shaped by choices I’ve made and fired by blazing experiences. All recyclable. Nothing is lost. Even the dust of what was once mortar flies off to another horizon, becomes part of another landscape, or sediment, cool under its blanket of water. What does that mean? What am I trying to voice with this misshapen pile of rubble meant to be a metaphor of time (my time) and experience, what I’ve built out of life and what I’ve either (1) allowed to crumble through negligence, (2) intentionally dismantled, or (3) witnessed the forces of nature disassemble.
A line from Sense & Sensibility, a line I won’t quote properly comes to mind: Nothing is lost which cannot be again found.
I think that’s what I’m trying to voice. What is lost, what tumbles down—can be again found, rebuilt. The shape won’t be the same; textures and colors will differ … but maybe, just maybe, new configurations will wear more comfortably, stand stronger against whatever nature may throw their way. Who can say?
Finally, what does all of this have to do with the whales? Let’s say it has to do with their ability to “trust” what’s out there when they breach, break the horizon line with great exhalations, spume rising all but invisibly against a backdrop of blue; it has to do with their great gray-blue inquisitive eyes; with their migratory patterns and timing, their generational runs north and south, south and north.
I’ll be heading farther south shortly (six weeks is a minute these days). Yes, let’s say the whales are the vehicle I’ve opted for to carry the metaphorical bricks of a life I’ve chosen (and continue to choose) to live. May not work for every reader. Doesn’t have to—so long as it works for me. And at the moment, it does.