Little things Like Whales
Word count: 737
Our daily lives are filled with a seemingly endless stream of responsibilities, and sometimes we miss the important stuff. Most of my days start at 5:00 AM with the annoying claxon of my alarm clock, and the chain of tasks begins. Brush the teeth, shave, drink some coffee, then eat some breakfast real quick while watching the news to see how the weather’s going to impact the rest of the day. From this point the day becomes a blur of work, chores, and responsibilities until in the evening when I collapse into bed only to start the cycle over again in the morning.
Recently I was reminded just how important all of those things are in my life. I had one of those moments where everything stopped and I truly considered myself lucky to live on Whidbey Island. Like most things that are truly important, most people missed it.
My wife and I went camping at the beach. We spent the morning setting up the camper, putting things away and getting ready to “relax”. I’m always amazed at how much work it takes just to relax.
After things were set up, Joan and I walked along a jogging path that ran atop a set of cliffs overlooking the ocean. We stopped and listened to waves crashing rhythmically on the beach below us, while the sun beat down on our shoulders. We stood there for some time with the wind in our face, looking out over the ocean to the snow-capped Olympic Mountain range. A seagull flew silently overhead then we watched as it effortlessly continued down the beach. I held my wife in my arms and we listened to the countless pebbles in the surf, popping and clinking as the waves relentlessly polished them against each other. The sounds of the ocean and the musical, rain-like tinkling of the stones seemed to wash away our stress.
At the moment we were about to turn and walk back the way we had came, something miraculous, and uniquely Northwestern happened. A gray whale suddenly surfaced in front of us. It was close enough that we could clearly hear the great animal blow the spent air from its lungs, sending a tower of mist ten feet into the air. The cloud of water hung for just a moment, creating rainbows in the sun as the giant inhaled a new supply of clean fresh air. We watched breathless as the leviathan gracefully slid back beneath the waves, and soon the ocean erased any trace that it had been there at all.
For that one brief instant, everything in the world was gone. It was as if the whale’s explosive spout evaporated the mortgage, the issues at work, and all of the other stresses my life. For a just a flash, there was only my wife and I, the ocean, and a 35 ton animal making its way north for the summer.
We waited to see where it would once again surface as a jogger made her way past us. My wife and I watched the waves for what seemed like an eternity until finally the whale surfaced again. We studied the majestic creature in the distance, trying desperately to form an indelible memory of the animal’s every barnacle encrusted detail before it gracefully slipped beneath the waves. For that brief time we were alone in the experience. We were privately witnessing one of the miracles of creation while people jogged past us without realizing it even existed.
We watched the ocean and tracked the whale’s northward trek until we could no longer distinguish its spout from the waves. My wife and I shared this moment while people continued to jog past us, heads down, arms and legs pumping oblivious to the beauty around them.
That’s what we do isn’t it? We go about our daily lives, head down, arms and legs pumping intent on our task at hand, completely oblivious to little things along the path. Little things like whales get overlooked. How many things of beauty have we missed by not taking a moment to just look around? How many sunsets have you let go by without stopping for a moment to appreciate it. In life, it’s the little things like whales that make it worth living. How many whales have you jogged past? How many will you jog past tomorrow? Why exactly, are you jogging?