I went whale watching today. First, let me start by saying that it was an incredible experience to watch the whales breach out of the water and then dive back under into their salty home. They are such beautiful creatures and seeing them in the wild off the coast of Cape Cod was an awe-inspiring experience.
One of the whales, a calf, jumped to and fro, in and out of the water as if preforming some sort of ballet only whales can do. I have never seen so much grace in 30 tons of animal flying into the air. Much better than Seaworld.
Humidity was high, and so was the sun. The wind whipped through my hair and threatened to knock my hat off my head. The sun pressed down, warm and sticky on my skin slicked with SPF 50 sunscreen. I was in a state of constant duress, trying to find the prime area for whale viewing. As soon as anyone saw anything though, all sense of personal space was thrown to the wind and rules went overboard. We were pressed like sardines up against the metal grates trying to catch a glimpse of some of the most majestic mammals on earth.
The vessel was filled with every demographic you could possibly imagine. There were families with young kids, couples on a honeymoon, retiree’s and everyone in between. Sulky teenagers sat around the stern of the boat and excited, sugar-high children ran around the deck. An amalgamation of people you can only find in the peak of summer on the cape. Rich New Yorkers and Bostonians clash in a battle for the best spots on deck.
There was a woman beside me, maybe in her late 50s. She spoke with a heavy southern drawl and leaned so far over the edge I thought she might fall overboard. She snapped hundreds of pictures trying to capture the magic of the giant, bobbing, cork-like whales. Each time she saw even a glimpse of whale, she would yell “I SAW IT, LOOK ED!”. Ed was her husband, who would nod in appreciation of how excited his wife was. Every few minutes, I would here another “Oh, Ed. They’re so beautiful!” Her smile, thin lips curled into a beaming grin, was infectious. You couldn’t help but be inspired by her wonderment.
Something about that made me smile. This woman, in her bright pink lipstick and matching shirt, a certified adult by anyone’s standards, could be more excited than some of the children on board about seeing the whales backs emerge from the water. It made me think about how often we lose our grasp on our own child-like wonder. We age.
In our world, we are on the go. We lose sight of enjoyment, and we get enmeshed in things we swore didn’t matter to us. Our jobs become our life, and our phones become our social outlet. We forget what we love, and sometimes how to love it. But for a brief moment, I saw that the magic, the excitement, the sparkle of childhood and living in a world where everything was big and new and exciting. And it was there in an adult from South Carolina holding a whale backpack.
It might sound pessimistic of me to think that adults get so bogged down we forget to have fun, but that isn’t my point. I think what I took away from the experience is that we should focus more on what gets our heart racing, and less on what keeps us up at night. What makes us feel like a child again. Whether it is hair blowing in your face spotting whales a mile away, or its surfing on cool water, or its reading a book in the sun until you fall asleep.
Whatever you love, rediscover it. Pretend to be a child and connect.