Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dolphin Love

My first up close and personal encounter with a dolphin in the wild took me by surprise. I was in Hawaii with a group of 7 people on small boat. We had set out to find a pod of dolphins to swim with. I had never been swimming with wild dolphins and had a case of nerves mixed with excitement. I didn’t know what to expect jumping into water with wild dolphins. I am a scuba diver and was no stranger to the open ocean but my nerves wouldn’t let me relax.

It was an idyllic morning. The sun danced on the water as the boat sped along the gorgeous Kona coastline. A call came in over the radio. There was a sighting of Pacific Bottlenose dolphins by another boat captain who was kind enough to radio us to let us know. We were looking for Spinner dolphins to swim with, but our guide decided to momentarily alter plans and check out the Bottlenose sighting. (I found out later that our guide's intuition told her there was someone on the boat who needed to meet the Bottlenose.) Shortly afterward we found the small pod. The Bottlenose dolphins began to playfully swim around our boat as it kept motoring along. Immediately the mood on the boat changed from subdued to laughter and jubilation. The dolphins were interested in us as well, it seemed. It was so joyful to see them all around us. Two people were up on the bow looking over the edge. One of them stepped down and asked me if I wanted to have a look. I gladly accepted, not knowing what I was about to see.

Peering over the edge I came face to face with a mama dolphin and her baby swimming on their sides. The mama was on the right and the baby on the left side of the bow, keeping perfect pace with the speed of the boat. I gazed into the mama dolphin’s beautiful eye and she gazed back. We were connected in that moment and we both knew it. I felt so much love and so much joy. I was so overcome with emotion tears flowed freely down my cheeks. My heart felt like it was bursting wide open with love. I had never felt anything like it. Their beautiful muscular bodies glistened in the sunlight as they swam. They were dark gray on the top and almost white underneath. The white on their undersides were glowing a bright pink. They were having a workout!

I’m not a mother, but I can imagine that raising a little one would be a very difficult thing to do. I'm guessing that I would be constantly worried about the welfare of my child and maybe I would tend to be over protective, but only out of love. This dolphin was teaching me what it is to be a mother. She was showing me how much she loved her baby. I understood that even though she loved her baby she knew that her baby needed to be free--and loved. Her baby needed to explore, experience and enjoy the environment it found itself in--including experiences that could be potentially dangerous. The mama dolphin was loving her baby so much that she let it swim close to a boat full of humans to feel the exhilaration of that experience. Her baby was loved, supported and encouraged by her. I understood in that moment that to love unconditionally is to love fully--without attachment, expectation or over-protection. She taught me that unconditional love is liberating and accepting not confining. She showed me that love is action more than it is feeling.

We went on from there to find many Spinner dolphins we actually got in the water with. I had more profound experiences with them. It was glorious. I had no idea though, that I would learn a most precious lesson from a dolphin while on a boat. I was so grateful to our guide for listening to her intuition that morning. Clearly I was the one who needed to meet the Bottlenose. I set foot on a boat one beautiful July morning as one person and stepped off several hours later, as another. It was only the beginning of what I was to learn about love from dolphins...