Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Reincarnation options.

A dear Aussie friend came for a visit over the weekend. She has kids, we have kids, so we planned to meet at the Vancouver Aquarium. It was so great to see her. She moved to Canada soon after we did, but lives in another province. Although it had been almost two years since I had seen her, it felt like I had only seen her yesterday, and we fell back into that lovely comfortable mode of being, that one is able to, when in the presence of a true, and much loved friend.

We shared a lovely day together, and got to chatting about all sorts of things. We were looking at the playful otters spinning and turning in the water, when my friend smiled and said, "Oh! I love otters. I'd love to come back as an otter". I so enjoyed her statement, and began watching the otters from an entirely different perspective.

They were gliding through the water with boundless energy and such grace. Their mesmerising swirling rhythm, made me feel that I were witnessing some kind of aquatic ballet. Indeed, to be as graceful, full of life and playful as an otter would be a marvellous life, and so my friend's utterance, made me wonder what I might like to come back as, should there ever be that kind of opportunity.

We were looking at the fish in the large Pacific Canada tank; fish with cold bulging eyes peering into the dark, murky depths and sour, down-turned mouths. The fish glided through the water with such defeated looks, starring back with a disdain for life, quite unaware that they were some of the rock stars of the marine world, as we mere humans had arrived in droves for an opportunity to ogle closely at them.

We concluded however, that they looked rather like grumpy old men and women, and should they speak, not a kind word would they have to say. They did indeed appear like they had tasted something bitter...perhaps they had - what with all the polluted streams, oceans and waterways, not to mention the hook stabs in the mouth they might have received, and there is the old, being plucked from their natural habitat and familiar surroundings to consider - I might look a bit bitter myself, if I had to endure all of that.

Of course, there are many kinds of fish, the variety we were observing at the time, were perhaps among the less fortunate in the fishy looks department, just as there are such individuals among the human kind (I for one, will not be looking into any mirrors during this discussion!).

The Beluga Whales were beautiful. I love their gentle faces, but they live in arctic waters, which quite frankly, doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

The Beluga are white, like fresh fallen snow, which makes perfect sense in an environment bobbing with icebergs, but if I were a Beluga with a preference for much warmer waters, then I think I would indeed stand out more so than a pimple on a debutante's dial. I could chose to holiday in the tropics, where the beach sands were luminous white, then I might blend in....although a beached whale is never a good sign, and a good dose of sunburn on my lilly white skin would throw the the cobblers on the entire plan. However, if I, as a Beluga, thought ahead, and invested in a couple of large barrels of zinc cream to smear over the entirely of my being, then I should be alright, but since I belong in the frigid waters of the Arctic, why would I? Life of a tropics seeking Beluga was starting to sound far too complicated.

How about a dolphin? Everyone loves them. My daughter certainly delighted in their thrilling acrobatics; their leaping and their diving. Dolphins have such a likable reputation and admirable social willingness. They are noted with mystical reference and are often considered protectors; alarming surfers of sharks, lurking in their midst.

Well, I am not really noted for my extrovert behaviour, and it is a little degrading that I would have to perform tricks for a smackrel of fish. What if I were not in the mood for tricks and games? What if I just wanted to laze around on an off day, and attempt to curl up on the sea floor somewhere and be lulled to sleep by the muffled sounds of the deep? I don't think the crowds would really appreciate an introverted, sometimes depressed dolphin - no fishy treats for me. I guess I wouldn't have a weight problem to obsess over....

A gull landed on the ground before me, while I was being swept away in adventures of life as a dolphin reincarnate. The gull was not part of the aquarium exhibits. A gull is the ultimate gate crasher, although this gull's presence largely went unnoticed.

The gull was enjoying the dolphin show and didn't even have to pay, and even though the gull is essentially an animal of the marine world, living life on the sea breezes and dining on fish, the gull was not required to perform, nor was the gull trapped within the bounds of an exhibit or tank. The gull was free to fly out to more interesting surrounds, when ever he felt compelled to do so, and he could choose a variety of activities in which to amuse himself. Such as diving into the water in search of a hearty fresh meal. Resting upon the land; snuggling away from the icy gales, and searching for sea treasures hiding in the rocks, or allowing his leathery feet to sink into the soft sand. A gull can glide on a carpet of salty air, spy life from above, or play tag with other gulls. That certainly sounds like a charmed life to me.

In retrospect, my friend wasn't thinking only of the animals within the confines of the Vancouver Aquarium, and neither was I, but it was fun to imagine life as one of those marine creatures - but in all seriousness, I think I really would like to come back as a bird...a sea bird, preferably one that takes flight.


Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I'm embarrased to admit this, but my biggest memory of Vancouver Aquarium was me chucking a tantrum (at 15 years old...) because I got WET walking there...why was this place always WET? (So asked me?)

So I moped around and only really remember a giant boa constrictor exhibit.

I must dig out my travel diary. I must remember more than that!!

Scotty said...

There's nothing like an old and trusted friend to make a day seem great, is there?

Susan Abraham said...

I love the colourful analogy you placed for this story. The image of rock-stars & grumpy old men for fish. Can you see it as an animation film already? :-)

Also, there is a beautiful documentary drama (1979) - it was a famous story and is called Tarka the Otter. It's a Brtish production that tells the compassionate adventures of a little otter. Here's the link to the DVD Strauss. Maybe your friend will like it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'd love to come back as a bird, but I'm scared of heights!

Stacy said...

This reminded me of those wonderful dreams where I am flying. I always want those to come true.

gautami tripathy said...

I am so glad you posted this > i got a great glimpse of it from the other side of Earth. Thanks.

Becca said...

Wonderful story of your day at the aquarium,and you've elevated the lowly seagull in my eyes.

Enjoyed this!

Regina Clare Jane said...

A wonderful post for today, Strauss. I love aquariums, too, but I never really thought about what it must be like to be one of those animals... next time I will, though. :)

Tammy said...

How wonderful that you found your gull. Loved the post! Friends are a great source of inspiration.