encountering the apparent other

elephant-seal free-picture.netOn Sunday, we drove to Drakes Beach in Point Reyes, California. The day dawned clear and rose to sweater weather in the afternoon. Part of the beach was cordoned off to protect unexpected visitors, elephant seals. A female and three young males lounged, occasionally flipping sand on their backs to keep cool. One male rushed the female, practicing his humping technique. She seemed bored and put upon by his youthful antics.

About forty people milled. I listened carefully, and heard comments like “ungainly” and “ugly.” A few people laughed, and made crude jokes while they pointed. That’s what the unexamined human mind does. Discernment, a necessary and useful tool, bleeds into less useful judgement at another’s expense.

This beautiful male–about seven years old, I learned from the naturalist–weighs 2000-3000 pounds. He’s a teenager, who will almost double in weight in the next few years. He is perfectly designed for his ocean habitat, hunting squid ten months of the year in the frigid depths. On the sand, he can move so fast that a human needs to run to get out of his way. He is curious, but not judging the restless humans crowding and pushing to get near. The three naturalists have to be very attentive to keep this crowd safe.

I had a precious minute with him eye-to-eye. Benign awareness radiated–the same awareness I find within myself. There was no other here. Our forms are different, yes. Our ways and habits of being in this world vary. But as we gazed at each other, I noticed that he too, is abiding, at rest in himself.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
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