Sea lions have been visiting me in my dreams lately, the fuller the moon gets the more of them appear. Last night the Ocean was teaming with them, all staring at me as I walked on shore. Two young ones came up on the sand to meet me. Curling together shyly they said, “we want you to get into the water again. We want you to swim.” This is the second time they’ve delivered that message to me. They sent the charmers this time, their young sweet play-fullness was irresistible.
I used to visit them a few times a week, before our son and a new home arrived. Submerged in the great Pacific with the September sun low in the sky I’d work my way down the coast, just outside of the breaking waves. Usually a gray speckled black-eyed face would pop up near me. The males made sure I wasn’t a threat, the females sometimes batted their eyes and beckoned me to chase them. When they surfaced close by I’d sing to them, that put us both at ease. I miss their wet whiskers and eyes that looked right into the most hidden parts of me.
Its not hard to see a Selkie in every Seal or Sea Lion you meet alone in the Ocean. They treat you as an equal, as kin. They are often serious minded and very concerned with family. When I’ve been in trouble, fighting a hard current or dangerous seas, they have appeared to shepherd me to shore. Many is the time I thought they’d sprout legs and join me on the warm sand. Language is the only real barrier separating us.
Selkie or not, Sea Lions live a life betwixt and between. They must give birth on the land, though they spend their lives mostly at sea. They are at home in the Ocean but compelled by life to visit the dry soil, a struggle many sailors have also suffered. Belonging to both places: betwixt and between.
I’m frightened to return to the waves, because they are so seductive and I have a family to think of. The Ocean is not a safe place for a land creature like me, and not all Sea Lions are my friends, though all may be kin. Its easy to get caught up in thinking of the Ocean as your lover, believing she will always take kind care of you. The Ocean is forever filled with the unknown, no matter how much time you spend there.
I’ve already made plans to start training in a pool so I can be strong enough to meet the waves. I will heed the call of the Selkie. I have a mer-mans tail, a mono-fin that when attached lets me swim like a Sea Lion, moving with the currents. I need a new wetsuit though, my old one is too thin to handle the depths and the speed that comes with a mono-fin. Truly a second skin fit for a Selkie, a free-diving wetsuit will cover me from head to toe and be virtually seamless.
I don’t think the Sea Lions want me to return to the water because they miss me. I think they know I need the Ocean, as surely as they need solid ground. Perhaps they see their cousin floundering on dry land, needing to return to the Great Mother and give birth to something only She can nourish. Though I may be on land they are still guiding me through rough waters, this time making sure that I make it not to safety, but to a mystery.