A Time to Remember
By: G Wayne
© June 14, 2007
It was a pleasant afternoon with cottony puffs of cumulus clouds lazily floating in a cornflower blue sky. I walked along the beach with the sun slowly heading toward the horizon as waves broke and pushed sheets of foaming brine over the course sand. They groped foreword with cold liquid fingers that pulled the sand from beneath my feet and then scurried back to the sea as another surge repeated the cycle.
Once again I stood, fully clad in my scuba attire facing a place that was mine, or at least I was a small part of.
With fins in hand and already breathing compressed air, I took off at a brisk walk, working as far past the breaking surf as possible. Off I went, farther into my briny sanctuary that never fails to please. Little did I know it was about to change my life.
I nimbly worked my way through the swells to about a half-mile off shore. I was content again, welcomed as a part of something far, far greater than myself.
While preparing to submerge and start my dive, I noticed what appeared to be a submarine far off in the distance. There were two people in a kayak at about the same place as my unidentified floating object and to my bewilderment; they showed no signs of reacting to anything out of the ordinary. I slid from the swell that gave me vantage, and arose on the next; but by then the object was gone. For the first time in years of diving, I began to feel a bit alarmed. Before having time to deal with feelings, the water beside me began to roil in a strange manner. It sloshed and bubbled; my mind raced to explain what was happening. At that moment, within an arm's reach, a humpback whale slowly broke the surface.
Things began to happen in slow motion, or perhaps it was my brain working faster, trying to take everything in. I was instantly overwhelmed at seeing a giant eye that stopped and stared with a calmness that stood in sharp contrast to my frenzied state. It was looking right at me, studying my face. I tried to force a congenial smile that must have made the whale think that humans are dopey. Then it slowly moved past only inches away.

A strange intimacy formed and a myriad of emotions exploded in my head. How could this be? Was I actually interacting with this massive leviathan of the sea? I felt awe at being in the presence of this majestic creature. Close enough to study the barnacles that had attached themselves to the animal's skin, close enough to touch. I was humbled at being dwarfed by this enormous creature and the knowledge that I was at its mercy if it chose to regard me as a foe. The slightest swish of its giant tail could crush my body with little effort. This never happened; all its movements were made with gentle compassion. Although I was frozen in an enraptured state, I was able to force my rigid arm to reach out and actually feel the whale's slick, rubbery skin. Somehow gathering more courage, I softly stroked its back.

Being no stranger to animals and knowing that their emotions can be sensed, I tried to become as mentally quiet as possible. To my astonishment, I could actually comprehend what the whale was feeling. It radiated happiness, pleased to be making contact with one of those little land mammals. It was as if it was saying, "Hi neighbor! Just stopped by to see how you're doing." It somehow reminded me of my dog, when it would run up to me wagging its tail. I am glad that my dog, Max, only weighed eighty pounds.

The idea that I was actually bonding with a whale in the whale's environment brought on a new fervor of sensations. How could I possibly be so lucky, so blessed, as to be able to experience something this magnificent? I watched spellbound as this creature that weighed over forty tons gracefully submerged. Its mighty flukes, more than ten foot across, arched high into the air and slid into the water leaving not even a ripple -a veritable Nijinsky of the sea. Then, an encounter that was so full, ended too soon.

It must have been hours before reality set in as I noticed the sun moving in on the ocean, offering its goodnight kiss. The sun's tail, a reflection that sparkled across rolling sea, became shorter as it followed, dipping out of sight as day became no more. I slowly swam back to shore, my emotion spent. I considered that I may have just experienced the best thing that would ever happen to me-a time to remember. And although the experience was so shallow in the past, memories were all that was left me.
I sat on the shore that night, sipping whiskey which lacked the ability to alter my state, and watched the stars. It would have been nice to share that experience with a friend. Perhaps true richness and clarity can only be achieved in solitude.

Copyright © 2009 G. Wayne