Call of the Dolphins

Yesterday I experienced a coincidence which I have since decided was “a sign”. Yesterday was the anniversary of my Aunt Bonnie’s death from cancer six years ago, a date which is probably remembered by almost every member of my family. Though I have hundreds of wonderful memories of Aunt Bonnie while she was alive, I have to admit that when I am reminded of her now I mostly think about her tombstone and the lesson it has taught me.

You see, Aunt Bonnie had a dream of swimming with dolphins. She really, really wanted to swim with dolphins. But she never got around to doing it. I’m not sure why not. Maybe she was too busy or thought it was too expensive or figured she’d do it the next year. But it turned out there wasn’t a next year for Aunt Bonnie. And so she never got to swim with those dolphins. In the end, my uncle had dolphins engraved on her tombstone. What else could he do? Anyway, this whole tombstone story has left a huge impression on me: swim with the damned dolphins while you can! I realize that not everyone wants to literally swim with dolphins — but don’t we all have our equivalent of a dolphin dream?

So here’s where the weird coincidence comes in. Yesterday I decided to unpack Moving Box #32, which has remained all taped up and sitting on our bedroom floor since we moved last October (it’s a good thing I don’t move very often — I’m terrible at it). Inside, I found one of those little treasures that makes unpacking almost exciting: a notebook from when I lived in Tokyo, dated 1993. A time capsule!

I learned a few things about my life in 1993:

1) I was very concerned about money. The pages are filled with calculations and estimates for my savings account.
2) I ordered a lot of clothes from the U.S. because I couldn’t find any to fit me in Japan.
3) I was obsessed with traveling. I wanted to go to Tahiti and New Zealand and India and Antarctica and Mexico. And guess what else I wanted to do, back in 1993? I wanted to go to Hawaii and swim with dolphins….

How could I have forgotten this? In the years since I scribbled in that notebook I HAVE been to Tahiti and New Zealand and India and Antarctica and Mexico. I even lived in Hawaii for a year but I never thought about swimming with dolphins! I cannot remember even thinking about a dolphin. Well, it just so happens that I am scheduled to fly to Hawaii on March 3rd, just a few days from now — though I had no plans to swim with dolphins — until yesterday, when I found that notebook and remembered Aunt Bonnie’s tombstone on the anniversary of her death. So thank you, Aunt Bonnie, for that gentle reminder…

At 2 p.m. on Monday, March 16th, I will be swimming with dolphins in Honolulu. I’ll let you know how it feels…


9 Comments on “Call of the Dolphins

    • Thank you, Jamie Beth!! I’ve just arrived in Hawaii and am really looking forward to swimming with the dolphins. I feel like a little kid…

  1. Yes, very moving and sometimes our ‘stuff’ reminds us. But maybe our dreams change and we can just imagine swimming with dolphins and that becomes enough! Enjoy your time with those amazingly intelligent creatures.

    • Thanks for your comment — it’s a good point that our dreams change as we change. I don’t enjoy swimming as much as I did when I was a kid — but I’m definitely looking forward to swimming with the dolphins. I’ll definitely write about the experience…

  2. Our mantra has become “If not now, when?” I know you will be thinking of Bonnie while you are out there with the dolphins.

    • Thanks, Phyllis. Great mantra!! It makes me so happy to see you out there, LIVING. It’s why we’re all here!! And yes, I will definitely be thinking of Aunt Bonnie when I’m with the dolphins…

  3. I’ll be interested to know how your experience. Swimming with dolphins has always interested me, ever since I was a small child and could see them from the ocean’s edge in Stone Harbor, NJ. My dream was fulfilled, when in 1991, I took a trip with Oceanic Society Expeditions to the Bahamas. I booked a ‘research’ trip, to study Spotted Dolphins. They are lots friendlier than Bottle Nosed. Every day, we would have spotters on both sides of our 70′ schooner and we’d watch for any interested dolphins. When they swam by, we’d quietly get in the water. Sometimes they would leave, sometimes they would stay. It was great. Even more interesting, that for me, when they would come really close (like right along side) you could feel their echolocation vibration through your sternum. It was magical. One dolphin kept so close, it was hard to swim far enough away to photograph him. I’d back up, he’d come close. I thought maybe it was the motorwind of the camera. After that trip, I felt that if I suddenly died, I would have accomplished everything in life I hoped for. Then I went to Belize and swam with whale sharks in the wild (and there were bottlenose there too). Imagine something the size of a school bus, swimming towards you, rolling its eyes, and you keep telling yourself over and over, they eat plankton, they eat plankton. I’ve learned to never think these amazing experiences could be over. I thought about that very thought, sitting a few feet from a large maned lion last October, who look less than happy our vehicle made an engine noise to depart from his location. Wishing you happy dolphin bubbles, or if you’re very lucky, a ring of bubbles.

    • Thank you, Laurena, what a wonderful and interesting story!!! I actually know very little about dolphins — I’m not even sure which type I’ll be swimming with. You’ve piqued my curiosity. Am also wondering when your next trip to Africa is. You’ve got the bug!!

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