Immerse yourself in artistic and creative expression . . . It’s time to take that plunge. Steven D. Farmer
It’s time to take that plunge! No more flitting along the shoreline like a skittish sandpiper. No more tip-toeing across the water’s surface. It’s time to take that plunge, to dive right into the curl of a wave, to feel the splash, the thrash, the effervescent fizz. It’s life calling you, a whole ocean of creativity waiting . . . Come play in its depths.
That’s what he seemed to be saying. And I’m pretty sure that he was a “he” – his head was huge, bobbing up out of the roll of a wave. My sister and I were on the shore at one of our favorite places, a grand stretch of state park beach five miles from the cottage where we spent our childhood summers in coastal Maine. And the tide at noon was flowing in and the wind had picked up and the waves splashed the sand and we were barefoot, dipping our feet into the brisk waters of the north Atlantic on the last day of September this past Friday. Two toddlers in diapers and sunsuits plopped down near their mothers and the seagulls, so many of them, swooped and swam and stood at alert. And near us, a fisherman cast his line out into the surf and the ocean sparkled as it does in late September and I was looking out, squinting into the silvery sparkles, when I first saw the big black head rise to the surface.
He rose up like a scuba diver, and that’s what I thought he was at first, bobbing out there, up and down, in the rise and fall of the waves. And he was looking at us, at the fishermen and the babies, looking right at us, at my sister and I. And that’s when I realized that he wasn’t a scuba diver at all; he was a seal, a big black seal. And he was playing in the waves, diving down, popping up, again and again and again. It was a happy day for my sister and I traipsing along the shoreline and the seal was a special guest at our party – or perhaps we were the guests and this seal, who was fishing with the fisherman and swimming with the waves, was our host inviting us deeper into his ocean playground.
It’s not the first time that seal has looked me in the eye. Nearly twenty years ago, Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes became my creativity handbook as I navigated the waters of raising kids and surviving graduate school and nourishing a creative life in the midst. I especially loved the story, “Sealskin, Soulskin” about the seal-woman who fell in love with a fisherman and moved to the shore. And it was a rich life they created together, and she thrived for a time, but then the sea began to call to her, and she began to feel a deep longing for its depths, and knew that she would wither and die if she didn’t find her way back home. Pinkola Estes spoke of this deep longing, how all of us crave for that connection with our creative seal self, that we all must find our way home to what brings us most alive. I remembered this story this morning and decided to investigate further so I looked “seal” up in my book of power animal cards. And here is seal’s message, according to Steven Farmer:
“Drop underneath those restrictive beliefs, and tap into this most natural drive toward creative expression, perhaps something you’ve always wanted to do but have stopped yourself until now. Feel it in all its depth and dimensions, then throw yourself into it – whether it’s singing, dancing, drawing, writing, or some other path. This is food for your heart and soul. . .”
Years ago, Cam and I, on our first trip overseas, traveled to Greece, to the island of Ikaria. It was the Saturday of Greek Orthodox Easter, and, while families prepared for the next day’s feast, we hiked along the rocky coast. The air was chilly and the wind was blowing and the waves of the Aegean splashed into shore, and as we walked by a tiny beach we noticed two heads bobbing in those waves, human heads this time, young German women we had met that morning. “Come join us!” they cried, a joyful cry in their German English. “It’s wonderful!” they added. The air was nippy and, those many years ago, we were not quite that bold, to strip down bare and enter those waters. We laughed and waved and stayed on shore. And that night, we said that we wished we’d taken that plunge.
But now, I’ve heard the call of the seal; he was talking directly to my sister and I. And although we were quite content to splash along the shoreline this past Saturday, it’s time to take the metaphoric plunge. It’s not a somber call toward spirit – like the young German women splashing in those Grecian waves, seal bobs and dives and plays with joy; his call is one for shedding those old rules about what is creative and what is not. His call is one for plunging into what is fun in this moment, what brings us alive and nourishes our seal skin. So that’s what I’m going to do, for the rest of this day back here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula thirteen hundred miles from that beach in Maine, for this weekend opening up wide, I’m going to dive right in to that ocean of creativity, to what brings me most alive. I’m going to play with seal.