The Euphoria of a Wild Dolphin Encounter
by Roberta Goodman
We long to repeat moments with dolphins. There are encounters
so intimate, revealing, touching and exquisite, but all we can
do is relive them in memory. Dolphin memories haunt otherwise
mundane lives. Dolphin memories remain fresh and perpetuate a
desire for more. We want more! Greedy for more of the best and
more from even the best. Just a hair’s breath closer and she would’ve
crushed me! Just a daring, soft move and she would’ve been embraced
in my arms. A little longer moment, a slip through the crack of
the cosmic egg, and we would have known each other transparently,
as understood as clearly as with anyone ever before…
Touched, known, heard, understood, embraced, loved, healed, and
held by a dolphin – the closest to heaven an earthly encounter
may offer with someone without a name.
No name for her or him other than the generalized Dolphin. No
word for the level of trust and acceptance, the strangeness yet
familiarity; the pleasure and incomprehension mix until you must
You may be held by a dolphin’s gaze, or frozen by a dolphin’s
warning. Time may stop or slow. The world may shift in your encounter
with this equal and alien sentience as you recognize the truth
beyond words. The dolphin’s mind is stretchy and may turn inside
out to enclose yours. Neuron to neuron, understanding is revealed
but not explained; experienced, but not defined; felt intimately,
but not proven; and in that moment, we accept. In a rush, our
mastery is dwarfed. In a whole, our competition is naught. Enclosed
by the dolphin’s mind, we shrink to one neuron of intelligence
and one synopsis of wisdom – linking to the periphery of the dolphin’s
immensity. This one synapse is pure joy, pure heart, pure sensuality,
aching for a response, aching for the arch over to speed down
dolphin body. We become one neuron, Go or No Go, one bridge to
cross and all the fire wanting to reach the other side. Desire
hope vision nerves, tuned to the synapse – “Go!”
“Hear me! Feel me! See me! Know me!” -- Pleas for recognition,
A god in the waters swimming circles around us. Hear our fervent
prayers! Be with me! I am yours! You are what I have missed my
entire life! You are what we can never be! You are power and grace
and silky smoothness. You are love and trust and the vibrancy
of Mother Ocean. You are as we would wish others to be – playful,
carefree, hopeful, daring, irreverent, nude and sensual, flirtative
No hands, no commands, no reins, no control.
Freedom without prison.
Masters without rulers.
Cooperation without coercion.
Voices without conversation.
Introversion without alienation.
Introspection enjoyed en masse.
Let’s go within, and within we will find each other, togetherness.
Trinities of joined heart and mind.
And the human yearns to reach into that matrix of joined trinities.
Humans who have been touched by the reality of dolphins long
to bring that awareness to human life. Bonded by shared dolphin
contact, we glimpse the closeness of the pod in our midst. We
resolve to reoccurances of the touch of dolphinness – within ourselves,
with each other. Then plunge into the sea to seek it again in
its original state – among dolphins. Among dolphins in a state
of grace, among dolphins while moods converge to bring once again
the intimacy, the intimacy of a dolphin’s non-physical touch.
Not-quite-physical contact with dolphins is like nonverbal communication
between people. In most wild encounters, it is the entirety of
the experience – we have no physical contact, and yet the language
only suggested by movement is rich and complete. Accepting that
the dolphins won’t, hardly, touch us, yet knowing their highly
sensual nature must yearn to feel our touch as we do theirs, is
a constant tension of dolphin encounters. Touch separated by millimeters
is exquisite, flirtatious, rewarding, yearned. The dissolution
of those millimeters, firm contact, is the unrelinquished love.
Skin to skin, a fleeting brush of dolphin skin, is the lure.
For the most part, the most intimate of dolphin encounters is
a solitary experience. Other humans have vanished. The only consciousness
is of the dolphin. Rarely do humans join the midst of a dolphin
pod while holding hands with other humans. Rarely do human minds
connect and then connect with the pod while swimming. While swimming,
we usually reside deeply in our separate minds and bodies, within
our own desires, experiences and encounters. All consciousness
of others dissipates in the wake.
We are fortunate in Hawaii to often be in the midst of a couple
hundred dolphin individuals, in clear, warm waters, with many
more dolphins than people. Even if we enter the water with a large
group of people from a boat, we often find ourselves alone with
the intense attention of a few dolphins. People and dolphins scatter
into small groups with a wide variety of experiences happening
all at once. Your own little pod may stay together and within
sight for an hour. Twenty people can easily get separated among
For some of us involved in introducing people to dolphins, we
are satisfied to facilitate the encounters using the best of our
abilities balanced with deep respect for the dolphin culture.
We are happy when everyone has had a lasting eye to eye meeting.
We use what we know to bring the dolphins to people, using gentle
persuasion to elevate the encounter. We build towards longer,
more interactive encounters by imbuing people with respect and
patience, by responding appropriately to our interpretation of
body behavior from the dolphins.
It is important to recognize and respond to communication efforts
from the dolphins. If we interpret a tail slap from a dolphin
to be directed at us and indicating a pressure one of them feels
from us, by giving them more space we will be returning a message
that their behavior has affects on us.
Interacting with dolphins in the wild, we have opportunities
to communicate uniquely and intuitively. We can avoid the tendency
to try and train wild dolphins or to block what our minds and
hearts tell us. Gaining and using new knowledge about dolphin
lives, needs and challenges, we can pursue deepening relationships
with spontaneity and respect, promoting benefits for both species.
My most ecstatic event with wild dolphins opened a door with
new purpose for my life beyond it.
I have been euphoric swimming with dolphins, alone and far from
our terrestrial world. Bursting in laughter, saturated with revelation,
honored with extreme closeness and even touch, I have basked in
a euphoric halo, a cone of grace surrounds us, a peace of heaven
in the sears, dolphins, like my long lost family, embrace me.
These experiences filled me with more yearning to be so close.
Solitary swims and lengthy encounters were sought and appreciated.
But it was ecstatic moments with an autistic boy, fins rising
around us, which fully opened a new door for me.
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