by Maya King
Editor’s note: Maya King is the daughter of Tsunami Ranger Steve “El Rey” King. We decided to make her essay our December post because we believe that seeing the world through the eyes of children is a valuable experience. Young minds are less conditioned and in many ways see more clearly than older ones. This particular essay is about the connection between human and marine mammal that can take place under optimal circumstances in the ocean. At a time when Peace on Earth becomes for some of us more than just an abstract concept and we do our best to lessen the division between “us” and “them” in our daily lives, we do well to lend an ear to voices that remind us we are One. Not just you and me, but all of Nature. May all beings be free from suffering.
Human beings live in the realm of nature; they are constantly surrounded by it and interact with it. Individual humans experience a moment that can affect them in some way emotionally or physically. Many of these instances which occur are called “phenomena”. In many of my encounters, I have discovered wonders much too precise to explain in words. My most memorable miracle however was being invited to swim and play with a seal. This was the first time I felt myself as a creature, and in a way I knew I was able to connect with the seal on the same level. This memorable phenomenon of mine occurred on a family trip in the Galapagos during the spring of 2015. The connection I had with nature on that trip and during one particular moment expanded my inner childhood laugh in a way that thrilled me.
The situation unfolded while I was snorkeling and exploring new and wonderful things. This seal that wanted to play with me was about 4 to 5 years old and loved having fun. Most animals known to man usually show some type of fear or anger when letting humans near them. In my experience, the creatures in the Galapagos are gifted with the intelligence and curiosity that humans who visit are not always harmful. Connecting with the seal gave me a feeling in my stomach as if popcorn were popping. This seal kept swimming around me, bolting in every direction he went. I had noticed him noticing me, and the repeating movements that the seal was doing, that he wanted to play! Amused by his cheerful movements, I slowly joined, giving the message of peaceful interaction. Shortly after I joined him in a game of circle chase. Playing with that seal was almost like playing with a puppy; it had livened me up in a way that is not comparable to anything. At first playing with him, it felt like it was a test of whether or not I would be able to handle being a seal. This made me a little anxious because I didn’t know completely how to address the situation without offending the seal. But after a few minutes my body language got the flow with the seal’s body language and we were performing! I could tell he was relishing the moment but not so much that he let his precautions go.
As I played with the seal, I watched and saw how much life he possessed. He was a very young and playful seal who enjoyed sharing this moment of chase with me. Even though the chase did not involve a specific moment of discussion between the seal and me, it gave me the intuition that the seal knew I was a friend to him. As he gazed at me with his big black eyes, I knew he saw right into me as a person and a creature. He saw me as a fun, childish, cheerful, and beautiful person, as well as a ferocious, curious, protective creature.
I am very lucky to have experienced this playful moment with a seal. I doubt that I will ever find myself in a moment just like this one again. In this moment, which was so rare, the connection was a spiritual discovery of nature and myself. Participating in a spiritual instance with the seal created emotions that I have never felt before. These emotions are indescribable for many reasons because I know that a moment like that this might only happen once in my life. Experiencing this phenomenon taught me also that every creature out there has an individual spirit that can be shared. We humans can choose to share that spirit with the creatures. We let ourselves be aware of nature and our true connection with it.
How have you connected with marine wildlife, or any wildlife, in your life? Tell us your story below!