The dolphins have been so gentle with us these past several months. They have been generous with their teachings in sweet and loving ways. For example, when they greet us in the water they match our pace prolonging our commune time with each other. When we play our leaf game they would drop off the leaves for us to retrieve, knowing we will return the favor. Often they will propel the leaves off their tails right to us. Their gentle grace has been so appreciated as they are so powerful and strong that if they didn’t make the choice to interact with us, there would most likely be no opportunity to connect with them. Yet day after day, year after year, they continue to include us in their play.
Today is the first full moon of the year 2001. My dear friend Celeste and I meet at one of the sacred bays for our morning swim. It was a beautiful quiet morning on this gray sandy beach. The sun was beginning its rise up over the pali (cliff). There were only a few people on the beach doing their yoga, having their first cup of coffee and meditating. The waters were as quiet as the shore. There were no signs of dolphins yet.
Celeste and I took this opportunity to catch up. We talked about the awareness we had come to know over the years, wisdom that we were now consciously living. We spoke of integrity and faith, about listening to our inner guidance and clearly understanding the lessons of our relationships on deeper levels. We spoke of how much lighter we had been feeling lately as if we had walked through many veils to a place of clarity. She was looking forward with excitement to the future now that she had come so far. I was happy for the moment, resting on this plateau to integrate all my recent awareness even more fully into consciousness.
Nearing the completion of our sharing, a leaf dropped from the tree we were standing under and made a very noticeable sound when it hit the other leaves on the soft sandy floor. It was a large red leaf, the brilliant color you see during the fall season. Without thought I said, “This must be a sign the dolphins are coming in”. With that, Celeste looked out over the waves and just as I turned to join her gaze, there they were, propelling over the rolling water, racing into the safe sanctuary of one of their favorite playgrounds.
We turned to each other, hugged and acknowledged our gratitude for our morning talk. We then headed off to gather our snorkel gear and met back at the spot where it is the safest enter this bay from. Before entering the water, I returned to the tree we were standing under and gathered over a dozen bright red leaves including the one that had dropped earlier alerting us to the dolphin’s arrival.
There were high surf advisories today for our shores so I was careful to watch the waves before entering them. I waited for the calm between sets then rapidly walked out to the far side of the break. After putting on my mask and fins, I ventured out to meet my beloved dolphin friends. Celeste caught up to me at the same time we were met by a small group of adults with a couple of youngsters. The kiekies (children) looked to be around six months old. I immediately dove down to drop off three leaves. The dolphins quickly moved underneath us to retrieve them on their pectoral fins.
In the distance we could see a larger pod coming our way. Celeste and I dove back down and dropped off more leaves. As we slowly rose to the surface, we watched as the entire pod moved quickly under us to see who could get to the leaves first. In a flash, the leaves were confiscated. Some leaves were caught on dorsal fins, pectoral fins and on the dolphin’s tails. Some had several leaves on one pectoral fin.
We also witnessed a new and very entertaining game that one dolphin seemed to create right in the moment. Other dolphins watched and then copied this newly learned leaf finesse. The dolphin caught a leaf with the tip of his beak then tossed it back over his head and caught it on his dorsal fin. Then he shook the leaf down his sleek body letting it come to rest on his tail.
We were soon found ourselves surrounded by more leaf-seeking dolphins. Our dolphin friends looked us intently up and down our bodies. “Leaves”, we could telepathically hear, “Leaves?” Celeste and I simultaneously dove down, breaking the tight formation we had been enjoying with a small pod of dolphins. We dropped the last of our leaves. They quickly followed us down and again as we slowly rose to the surface we watched as these full-moon-activated creatures quickly yet gracefully scoop up the leaves. Mothers were showing their babies how to play which looked like good practice for learning how to out maneuver a fish. Judging by how full their bellies looked and how much they were pooping, I’d say they had a good nights hunt and were feeling energetic, frisky and strong.
Celeste and I were rejoined by the small group of now leaf-carrying dolphins playfully swimming right next to us. Then they began their weaving pattern, taking turns from either side of us making shallow dives crossing each other right under and in front of us. Many have observed dolphins swim this way while aboard boats where they swim very close to the boat riding the bow wake. One dolphin will cross underneath the next and then another mirrors his action, then the next and so on with the appearance of effortlessly keeping up with the boat. When they do this right under your body it is very exciting. I have learned to join them in this behavior during our swims and take my turn weaving this braiding pattern while propelling forward through the water. While in the midst of this dance I am truly a member of their pod.
Celeste and I were so completely absorbed in this dance that we hadn’t noticed that they divided us into two separate groups. I was taken in one direction and Celeste was led into another area of the bay. We were both so focused on this invigorating activity that we weren’t aware until much later that we had been separated. Celeste and I didn’t see each other again until we met back on shore.
The group I was with took me over to the shallows of the bay under the ancient cave ridden pali. I love to swim with the dolphins here as it is so intimate. The dolphins continued weaving under and all around me, pausing to look deeply into my eyes. The morning sun broke over the pali’s ridge so I could easily see the geometric forms in their sweet, brown eyes.
I counted seven dolphins. In the distance another small group was swimming our way. I counted an additional seven. In all the years I’ve been swimming with dolphins, I have never counted the groups I’ve encountered. This day for some reason, I did. Then another group of seven joined us, then another until there were seven groups of seven maintaining their formations swimming all around me. Suddenly I heard, “Seven times seven…” I didn’t get it at first so the message was repeated several times until … Ahhh! I just passed into my 49th year around the sun. I then understood the significance of their mathematics. Immediately after their message to me had registered I heard, “Yes! This is your year of mastery. Seven times seven. This is your year. Go for it with everything you’ve got! Come on, come on, come on!!”
Then the coaching began. One dolphin came up to me, separating me from the rest of the group. He had a leaf draped over his tail. He began taunting me with it, teasing me, challenging me to get his leaf. Those of us who play the leaf game with the dolphins don’t use our hands as a means to get the leaves. The game is played like this. When a dolphins drop their leaves, you dive down and try to get it before they do. This isn’t always easy as the dolphins are so much stronger, faster and more agile in the water than we humans are. For the past several months the dolphins have been playing this game with us very gently, giving us opportunities to retrieve the leaves. We then dive down to drop the leaves off for them to capture again. This game is an excellent example of human/dolphin interaction. They are freely playing with us in their environment on their terms. However, today was very different.
This male was challenging me to really go for it. He positioned himself just ahead of me, moving his leaf-draped tail back and forth in front of my face. He continued egging me on. I could hear him say, “Come on, come on, come on!!” very rapidly and with enthusiastic encouragement. So I went for it. I began swimming after him using the “dolphin kick” (legs together arms by my sides, using my abdominal muscles moving in a succession of up and down full body thrusts, similar to how a dolphin swims.) When I got right by his side and was elated that he stopped so I could catch my breath. He looked straight at me and said, “All right, that’s better, now come on, come on, come on!!” From a near stand still, this dolphin pumped his tail and sped ahead looking back at me every few feet. I pursued and caught up to him again. With his leaf precisely placed on the same spot as before, he began waving his tail at me, again challenging me to take the leaf. Once more, his tail was right in front of my face. I could have easily used my fingers to claim it. Remembering the leaf game rules, I did not. I kept my hands by my sides and he intensely barked at me, “It doesn’t matter how you get it, just go for it, get it!! Telepathically I told him that he could let me have the leaf every now and then as incentive. He replied, “How’s this for incentive!” He then pumped his tail like before and sped off into the light blue distance. Within two seconds he was out of sight. I was pooped! Every muscle in my body had reached its full capacity. All I could do is go limp in the water and rest upon the swells. With my face in the water I took full deep breaths through my snorkel and let the waves rock me, easing my stressed muscles. I had quite a way to go to match this dolphin…and yet, what a goal!
I could hear chirps and whistles in the distance. They were coming toward me. A nursery pod of 14, eight females and six babies came up to where I was floating in my relaxation pose. They placed me in the middle of their group. The nurturing vibration they sent me was so sweet and loving. They gave me a perfect counter balance to the energy the challenging dolphin had given me. This nursery pod’s gentle presence was so welcomed. Their warm bodies radiated warmth throughout the water around me which helped me to revive my muscles so I could begin moving again.
They stayed close to me, taking turns looking me square in the eyes. Even the babies were peeking at me from under their mother’s bellies. Their loving acceptance was reassuring and strong. I could hear their sweet voices tell me, “Its all right, you’re fine, you’re doing well.” They began their weaving pattern with me in the middle and we picked up a little speed. I dove down to swim just under the waves rather than use my strength to swim on top of these large swells. We swam together for a little while then I stopped to rest again and watched them disappear.
I felt pretty good. This pod helped me rejuvenate. I began to head back to shore. I got about ten feet toward my destination when who do I swim straight into? Yes, it was my challenging dolphin friend. “Oh no” I thought, do I have it within me to meet his challenge again?” I couldn’t resist. When a dolphin invites me to play I cannot say no. So the game began all over again.
I was surprised that I did as well as I did. There were several times I caught up to him. I thanked God that he was taking me in the direction of the shore. The swells were getting higher and at times I felt as though I was in the rinse cycle of a washing machine. Catching up to him once again, he nodded his head up and down looking in my eyes. He was acknowledging my strength and said, “Good going! You’re getting stronger by the minute.” I was so glad I did not refuse him. Just to feel the joy exude from him because I rallied to play was worth the sore muscles I expected to wake up to the next day.
Out of the blue the entire pod appeared, mothers, babies, aunties, adolescents and young mating adults. I thanked them and told them that I loved them. Some of the pod swam beside me to beam me one more time with their permanent smiles exuding pure love, joy and acceptance. I felt complete and bid them all good day. I could see I was getting closer to the shore and continued my strokes in that direction.
Having reached the shallows I backed onto the beach, watching the waves crashing down upon the shore. I stood their in amazement reflecting on what I had just experienced. I kept my gaze on the bay before me and cheered each time the dolphins jumped out of the water. They soared well above the waves and suspended their bodies in the air before plunging back down with a huge splash. They continued their aerobatics flying, flipping and spinning. Some added a flip at the apex of their jump and some spun into a blur high over the waves.
Then I saw her. Celeste emerged from the water and began her walk slowly onto the wet sandy shore. Matching her gate, I moved forward to meet her. We embraced, it was obvious she had just had a wonderfully exuberant experience. The look of wonder and bliss was shinning out from her sparkling eyes.
Arm in arm we walked over to our mats on the beach laughing and rejoicing about our amazing romp with our dolphin friends. We sat down on our mats, put our gear away and began sharing. Sure enough, even though we were apart in two distinctly different areas of the bay the entire time, our dolphin friends were engaging us in exactly the same activities. There truly is no separation! The only difference was how we interpreted the dolphins’ challenges. My understanding was that my physical strength was being challenged while Celeste took the challenge to strengthen herself emotionally. Our sharing was so beneficial because after leaning how the another took the lesson, our perspective of our own experience broadened. We had a good laugh over how we originally applied the dolphins’ challenge to just one aspect of our being. In truth, we were being challenged to strengthen all aspects of ourselves.
Its good to have friends to share life’s experiences with. They help us stay infinite and accept the many facets of our who we are. In our union we build our strength, by giving our support and staying open to receive, we sustain it.
copyrite 2001, Sheoli Makara