… the move from South Bend, Indiana to Seattle, Washington is still a dream come true. Living in West Seattle feels like an American dream of living in Scandinavia, Sweden or Denmark maybe. There are the adorable boutiques and minimalist art galleries decorated with rough wood and silver dock-rigging. The long dark nights, the tanker ships and busy harbor, and the no-nonsense neon-wearing bike-riding commuters. It has organic everything, it’s cozy, rainy, and anti-gun.
And it has seals and sea lions, sea gulls and herons. Fog, sprinkles, and torrents. Tug boats leading container ships painted bright blue, yellow and black, from Hamburg to Hong Kong. And the roiling, inky-black mother sea lies underneath it all, holds it up, makes it possible.
Tonight while Honey Girl and I were walking on the bulkhead at Alki Beach, something cool happened!
It was a quiet and very dark evening under a New Moon, few people were around. The tide must have been going out fast; from the beach you could hear a clattering noise, as the shiny grey rocks rolled down into the cold water only to roll back up again when the next wave came in. Suddenly my dog and I both looked to our left, and there in the middle of a small lagoon, rings were forming around a seal bobbing nearby. It snuffed and sputtered air, bobbing along and looking at us, three times before disappearing under the waves. Maybe it was my white parka; he may have been wondering what that white light was, moving along the horizon. Or maybe it was Honey Girl–she was definitely aware of the seal–were they communicating with each other? It seemed simpatico…., at any rate she looked happy, if a bit excited.
With all I’ve been reading about chi or spirit lately and the constant practice of T’ai chi, I’ve come to believe that energy or chi exists. It may manifest as a non-verbal entity that is impossible to explain, but it is quite real. It warms up your hands and calms down your thoughts. It can be felt and shared, too, among humans and between species. That seal’s presence tonight was peaceful and curious; it was a serene feeling to know she was unafraid of us, and that we could exist together silently in the dark before parting ways. I felt happy for the water quality of Elliott Bay too; the abundance of life in these waters proves it’s still alive, pure enough if not perfect… like all of us.
Lately I’ve been thinking about seals a lot because of reading stories of Selkies–seal-women who can become human, but only for a while–and other magical women in Sharon Blackie’s weird and wonderful book, If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging. Its title is odd, but the book is deeply worth reading if you seek to make sense out of being a woman in our world today.
I’ll leave you with a cheerful quote from that book:
No star is ever lost
we once have seen
We always may be
what we might have been. (p. 89)
These are my New Year’s resolutions: to embrace life with no regrets and to forgive those who have done me wrong. To make ways to see the people I love all over the world, and make new friends here in Seattle. To remember the fleeting nature of our time here on earth, and cherish the memory of the dead.
Six months never flew by so fast!