The Abyss of Knowing
This evening, I went for a beautiful run along the ocean. I thanked her for the depths of her being; for creating life on earth; for moving me every time I stand on the edge beside her.
The wind whipping at my ponytail. The pelicans gliding overhead. In that moment, I felt the spirit of life within all.
Exhilarated, like white-wash crashing against a rocky shore, I began my journey back the way I came.
I ran across clusters of rocks, which separate our beach from the cove next-door. Skipped through tide pools where anemones of neon-green drift in the subtle current. And jogged past a flock of juvenile seagulls hunting for scallops amid the barnacle-covered pinnacle.
I paused for a moment and squatted on a warm boulder in the shade, watching as the colors of dusk mixed into the milky-blue surface waters. As the sun sank lower behind the cliffs, I saw brown, sun-soaked stones transform into a cool grey color.
Taking a deep breath in, I stood, wished the ocean farewell and hoped from boulder-to-boulder, finally landing on the sandy beach.
Lost in my own bliss, I completely overlooked the gentleman standing in the sand before me. He was a Security Guard who patrolled the private beach. I thought I had done something wrong! Better break the ice…
“Hi!” I howled.
He greeted me with a concerned, sideways glance, saying: “there’s a sick seal here”.
Eyes as deep and as black as the darkest night peer up at me. Teary, almost. Blinking sadly. Swollen and glassy. My own gaze, melting into his.
The guard tells me he is sure the seal is going to die. And so, with weak knees, I kneel to the sand empathetically. I tell the guard I’ll stay with the helpless creature. At that, the man leaves me and the seal to find professional help.
Time passes as I sit beside this doe-eyed sea-dweller. He, caught between a rock and a hard place. Me, wondering what one is supposed to do in this situation.
Part of me wants to give him a hug or scratch his belly, but I see he is suffering.
His breathing is irregular and his slim, mermaid-like body is racked with shivers. I am about to give the poor soul the shirt off my back, and then I realize doing so won’t actually help. Whatever is causing this disease is coming from inside.
Lately I have been practicing Pranayama Breathwork at my yoga studio.
This is the tactic of, not only connecting to your intuition through accessing a higher state of being, but also the surest way to mindfully heal all dimensions of your body. Like the waves of the ocean, which push and pull the climate of the earth – with the breath, one can connect to and conduct with vitality.
My friend could not stop shaking and sniffling. He was heaving uncomfortably out of his blubbering nostrils. And so, I straightened my spine, sat in the meditative lotus pose, and breathed along with him.
While I sat there, intent on restoring this creature’s vitality, his penetrating gaze stayed locked on my eyes. Like a puppy begging for food.
We were locked in that divine moment for about 10 minutes or so. During this time, my mind wandered back into the ocean. Dreaming about human pollution. Wondering if it was one too many Mercury poisoned fish that got his stomach so upset.
We discussed the notion via eye contact.
And then fight or flight kicked in - for him - through me.
I jumped up and ran like a monkey towards the sea, chirping like a singing bird for my friend to “get in the ocean, come on!” To my sheer amazement, the seal lazily moved. An inch. Resting his triple chins on a rock to look at me with the emotion of animal indifference.
From that angle, with his thick, needle-like eyebrow whiskers outstretched, I could see the predator in him. I saw his innate, primal energy surging forth.
“Come on”, I said. “You’ve got to get back in the ocean!” We both know if you remain on land, you won’t stand a chance.
Fear returned to his eyes like the flicker of a flame.
He began to shake furiously again. Thus, I slowly walked up to him and placed my fingertips on his back – at that moment, he bent backwards to look at me upside down – like those photos/videos you see of seals flipping around underwater. He looked so cute!
Now that I had his full attention, I darted toward the waves.
Patted the sand. Chirping, “come on!”
And he moved. First his tailfin twitched. Then he started digging into the sand with his flipper.
At this point the tide was rolling in. It all felt so surreal. Like the ocean was trying to help him get back home.
And he did. I watched as he swam into the sun.
Circling back to the thoughtful rumination that preoccupied me on my hike: I was coming to terms with a scare I had the time I almost drowned in the ocean.
It was summertime about four years ago. I was playing in the waves, the high tide, when a huge set of waves, absolutely immense, rolled in on me. My head probably looked like a buoy as the young tidal wave came down on me – then another, and another... I was tossed around like a rag-doll in the deep, pitch black whirl pool.
Water all around me, I could not tell which way was up.
I felt my breath leaving my bones. I have never been so afraid of losing my life. My hopes and dreams played out in my mind’s eye…
It all happened the way they tell us it would.
Thankfully, there was not another wave. I don’t think I could have managed to find the surface if another wave had come and disoriented me again with my oxygen levels so low. It was terrifying.
And so, as I perched on a rock high above the one who almost took my life, ocean swirling like an infinite serpent in a crevice below me, I surrendered my fear and resolved into a state of total reverence. I had the clarity to see the ocean taught me an invaluable lesson that day. She told me to fight, kicking and calm, for this life. She pushed me to my breaking point, then helped me stay afloat.
So, imagine my heartbeat when I met the eyes of that seal. I felt I had gazed into the abyss of knowing. And the spirit of the ocean gazed back.