Monday, November 19, 2012
The Dolphins Under the Bridge
A few days ago, while visiting on the phone with a friend, we started talking about family, not our tribe, but the one we were born into, the one that all too often drives us nuts. You know the one. I guess with Thanksgiving approaching, it entered our minds as she was dealing with a self-inflicted invitation to the Family Fun House. We both like to think we are at least on the path to possible enlightenment and have found a way to move through these events unscathed. Then I reminded her of what Ram Dass says about that: "If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family." She responded with a recent talk she'd watched by Joel Osteen (there's room for everybody at this table) who alluded to Noah's time on the ark, surrounded by nothing but family for days on end. No wonder his sons found him drunk with his clothes falling off. Given the extended family time, I told her I probably would have taken my chances in the water, flood or no flood, then she added, "...and pray for dolphins."
Dolphins have come to the rescue of humans more than once, not for me personally, but I've read of these rescues and I'm always taken with how compassionate and loving they seem to be, completely without judgment and open to us in ways that simply amaze me. Their behavior seems far superior to many humans.
My favorite dolphin story of all time is found in a documentary titled, "The Bridge." If you haven't seen it, I hope you will. It's a tough one to watch at times; the subject is not a happy one, but an important one, nonetheless. For a year, a film crew set up cameras near the Golden Gate Bridge, just to watch and record those who came to walk it, and, ultimately, those who came to end their lives there. Their job was not to interfere, it was to record the movement on the bridge. The story that unfolded was the story that unfolded.
We watch as their cameras find a variety of people, both young and old, who have lost their ability to make sense of life, who have come to end their personal nightmare. And, we watch as some of them climb up and over, and drop to the water below. Some climb up on the railing, stand there for a few seconds and then fall backwards into eternity. Some hesitate and a person arrives just in time to prevent them from doing so. One young girl was literally pulled back from the edge, held onto by her rescuer as they waited for help to arrive, then taken away, along with her choice in that moment. We listen as family and friends talk, trying to make sense of it all, what and where it all went wrong for the person they loved so much. These are the stories of helplessness.
But, one of those stories was told by a survivor. He described how, after he had leaped, on his way down to the water, he felt remorse for his choice, and realized he wanted to live. More than anything. Not long after hitting the water and being pulled down into it, he found himself being raised up by a force he could not see. Something was working to bring him up to the surface until his head emerged above the water. What came to his rescue, what buoyed him to the surface? Dolphins. Dolphins came and formed a circle beneath him. They continued swimming in a circle, which created a buoyant force, and then swam him to the surface, holding him there, within their circle, until help arrived. It's a story about love, it's a story of how the universe works when we fully open ourselves to it, and it's a story I hope I never forget.