A Whale of a Teacher
In the world of coaching skills I study, the belief is that thoughts create feeling and feelings create external circumstances. Ergo, if you don’t like your external circumstances, change your thoughts first. This sounds easy in theory but I find it either incredibly difficult to do or a magical concept. Get down to real life problems, and it’s downright terrifying.
For example, I have a pretty clear idea of how I want my future to look, how I want it to feel. The trouble is, I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to get from where I am now to where I want to be 5 years from now. For a girl who loves a plan, this is mystifying.
How in the world am I going to go from newbie, insecure entrepreneur with a dog and amazing family to wildly successful creative business owner with a dog and a farm next to a wilderness area, visits from wild animals, organic garden, funny/sexy/kind/honest husband, house with screened in front porch, studio, solid community of like minded friends, hot spring natural pool, Christmas lights hanging from the huge trees outside, evenings spent fire-side eating meals from that garden, amazing family nearby and involved in my day to day activities, a spirit-centered life of generosity, service, ease, love, connection, zest, and courage?
Obviously, I have some work to do.
And coaching tells me to start with thoughts and feelings, not plans. A coach would tell me that I can have all that and more because the universe just needs to know what I want and to receive some direction from me. But, and this is key, it responds to love and faith, not fear.
It’s a big concept that demands faith- to feel one’s way forward and know that God/Universe will bring you something that meets, no- exceeds, your dreams.
I’ve heard the success story so often that it’s hard to deny. “I dreamed this, and it came true.” I’ve also experienced that success story myself. Several times. And yet, I still battle with fear and doubt. “Really? HOW will this work,” I think.
The first time I read about this concept, I was intrigued enough to try it out. I was headed to Hawaii for vacation, and in Martha Beck’s book, she describes requesting an encounter with marine wildlife and getting one, so I thought, what the hell, I’ll try what she’s writing about. Then I thought, this is absurd. Then, oh hell, what can I lose?
I purchased tickets for a snorkel trip to the Molokini Crater, a sunken volcanic crater filled with colorful coral and fish. As we suited up for the trip, I sent some calls? messages? requests? to a whale out there. It went something like this: hey, whale? I’m trying this crazy exercise and it would be really super cool if it worked. Like, please let this work. Can you feel me? I can feel you. I’m tugging on our connection and it would be awesome to meet you. I’m snorkeling today so I’ll be on a boat out there. Could you swim by and I dunno, spy hop or something? Wave your tail in the air? I’d love to meet you if you aren’t busy today. OK – bye!
Then we loaded our boat, and I promptly forgot about my exercise as the ocean took over. TURTLES! CORAL! SO MANY FISH! PRETTY! The snorkeling was cold, so I had to swim around quickly to stay warm and the current was strong. I felt invigorated and a little scared. WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE GETS SWEPT OUT TO OPEN WATER? THE WAVES ARE HUGE TODAY! THAT PERSON ALMOST LOST THEIR SUIT GETTING BACK INTO THE BOAT! Snorkeling took all my attention.
After a morning of excitement, we crawled back into the dive boat and shivered under towels. The captain watched the other boats head off to our next snorkeling spot and shouted, “Change of plans! We’re going to a different area. It’s just on the other side of this crater. It’s a deep wall dive but you can snorkel the top.” We all shivered and nodded. Aye aye captain!
As he steered us around the crater and to the wall, we peered over the side of the boat. The rock wall plunged down and disappeared into total darkness. Who knew how deep the water was here? SCARY! WONDER WHAT COULD COME GET US FROM BELOW? IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE COLDER IN THERE. WISH I HAD A WET SUIT… We heard a sudden rush of water behind us.
“A whale!!!” the dive master shouted. “A whale! Get in the water! Now!”
After a stunned pause, DID SHE JUST SAY TO GET IN THE WATER?, everyone quickly grabbed their gear and flopped out of the boat, chill forgotten. Most swam about 20 feet from the boat and then promptly turned around.
But the dive master and 3 others of us kept swimming out, away from the boat. I noticed 2 faster swimmers staring straight down, so I headed to them and there, down below us, barely visible in the dark green blue water was a huge whale. It looked the size of a bus.
It turned gently in the water, and we watched from above, dog paddling, mesmerized as the sun’s rays caressed its body.
It rose towards us, and can I just say, that realizing a whale is coming towards you creates such a sense of wonder and fear and what-the-hell-do-we-do and memories of Jonah stories that we quickly split into 2 small groups, each swimming to a side, any side to give this whale its berth. I felt tiny and exhilarated. I think I squealed like a 3 year old. And as it slowly rose, suddenly another whale became clear in the shadows of the depths. They turned, noses pointing toward the surface. They moved so that their bodies were horizontal in the water. They moved together, effortlessly, through the water circling, rising, doing whatever it is that whales do.
And that’s when I remembered my request from that morning.
I felt a knowing so deep that my eyes watered. Humbled and cherished is the only way I can describe it. I felt that whale so deeply in my own chest that I transformed from the inside out. My request played a part in that meeting. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But I have faith in that experience.
It was truly a magical moment I will remember for the rest of my life.
So, as I sit here, feeling fear, feeling an utter lack of confidence about how I will get from A to F in my own life, I imagine myself leaning on the bow of that boat, sending a request to a whale somewhere in the ocean asking for a meeting. A call is a powerful thing, indeed.
“Does this happen often?” I asked the Dive Master, already doubting the experience back in the boat.
“Never. This never happens. They don’t come this close.”
“Do you think they knew we were there?”
“No doubt. They knew exactly where we were.”