Thursday, May 14, 2009

Living the Dream

Some say that it is good to know people in high places. Well in my case its good to know people who know people. My friend's niece is a dolphin trainer at Sea World. My friend invited me to celebrate her birthday by swimming with the dolphins. So Tuesday I had the incredible treat of bringing one of my life's dreams in to reality.

It almost feels like it didn't happen. Have you ever gone on a trip & come home and wondered if it ever really happened? That is how I feel. But it did happen and it was wonderful.

I am not a great swimmer and being by the water is great but I am not fond of being in water. So why one of my dreams was to swim with dolphins is a little weird.
(Other than dolphins are really cool!!) So when my friend said she wanted me to come with her I was flooded with questions... Do we go under water? Do we wear wetsuits? Is the water cold? Are we snorkling? Face masks? Fins? How deep is the water???

I like to get ALL the details before I "dive in" to something I am unfamiliar with. But on this occasion I had to let go of a lot... including my fear of water. Bogging my friend down with endless questions she couldn't answer was useless, so I let go. I put it out of my mind or put it into another section of my mind so I wouldn't obsess. I went in to this experience with an open mind.

We arrived at Sea World in the morning and were very lucky to be alone with the trainer. The water was very cold: 60 degrees. The wetsuits & booties helped keep us somewhat warm but the cold water does seep in and takes awhile to warm up.

The dolphins were so playful & friendly. We could feel their open hearts. Even though the trainer was giving them commands, nothing felt forced and the dolphins were open to sharing their playfulness with us. We interacted with 3 different dolphins: Sandy, Ridley & Chow. Sandy was the oldest. She was 30 years. There was another dolphin that was 40 years old that we saw in the other holding tank.

Each dolphin was brought over to us separately at first. We were able to pet them & hold their faces in our hands & kiss their noses. Their skin is slick & soft. The trainer said they like to be touched. They each had individual noises they made through their blow holes. We encouraged them with our giggles & strokes.

At the end of our session each one of us got to swim around the pool with one of the dolphins. This was truely a test for me. Deep cold water... with an animal... a large animal... a large powerful animal... but I trusted the animal. The entire time with them there was not a malicious vibe in any of these dolphins. So I held on to the dorcel fin and let Chow take me for a ride around the pool. I screamed & laughed the whole time! Cold water splashing my face! It was amazing! I loved it!

We went on to have a full & fabulous day with private tours of the sea lions & otters. We sat pool side watching the trainers try different tricks with the dolphins. When they got the trick right the dolphins would squeal with delight as they came up out of the water. The trainer in the pool said the dolphins were squealing with excitement underwater. There is so much joy in them!

I could sit and watch them swim for hours. Even when they were just hanging out in their tanks, they swam around and played with each other, jumping out of the water.

Living at the beach allows me to sit on the sand and watch dolphins in the wild. I can see that they are equally playful. I have seen wild dolphins jump and flip out of the ocean.

So much joy! I hope to hold this joy in my heart for a long time.

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