Lessons Learned From a Sea Turtle
"When life gets you down - do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming." -Dory, Finding Nemo
It's sea turtle nesting time in Florida, and in the same child-like way that I am fascinated by birds, bugs and the four-leggeds in my tiny front yard, I am in love with sea turtles at the ocean.
And the more I think about it, the more I notice how much we have in common with them, despite all appearances.
Perhaps they have come to teach us some big soul lessons in this challenging season of life.
You probably don't often compare yourself to sea turtles like I do, and that's totally understandable.
But here's the thing:
I feel a lot like they feel as they patiently wait to give birth after a long journey.
It's like I'm treading water, facing a shoreline that is only vaguely familiar and wondering where the heck I'm supposed to make landfall.
How do I go forward to birth something new when I have no idea what my life will look like in a few weeks or months or years?
This creating-a-new-world stuff is not for the faint of heart.
Giving birth to a new way of life that is more kind and loving is an exciting thought, but as we know, this process can also be painful, scary and unpredictable.
Many of us are feeling this on some level.
How do we step forward into our passions and visions (or today's to-do list, for that matter) when we are reeling from loss, change and uncertainty?
Slowly. Very slowly.
With tender loving care.
And so, for a light-hearted take on a weighty subject, we look to a sweet mama sea turtle for some sage advice and wisdom of the ages.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM A SEA TURTLE
Oh, just think of the determination that fills her fierce mama heart, paddling hundreds - sometimes thousands of miles - following the mysterious calls of energy, magnetism, stars and ancestry, to nest on the shore of her birth.
"Just keep swimming," she might sing to herself on the way, borrowing a tune from her fish friend Dory.
The determined mama alternately paddles and rides the currents, flowing with grace, until she arrives home on the beach where she was born.
With an air of acceptance and perseverance, she drags her heavy body (200 to 400 lbs) from the lightness of the water to the weight of the sand on slow rhythmic flippers, crossing the beach several inches at a time until she reaches the dune line.
These are the only hours in her life that she spends out of the water.
Like us, she is having that 'fish out of water' feeling.
We are with you, Mama.
Such mindfulness she exhibits as she watches, listens, feels ... for the right spot to dig her nest, stopping mid-beach and making a U-turn, dragging her body full of eggs back to the sea if anything is not in alignment.
If there is too much seaweed, a noise or a light out of place, the smell of a sea bird or a bobcat, despite the effort of slogging up the sand after the big swim, she is out of there.
This is not the time for compromise.
It might be the turtle version of something my daughter Maya has said to me many times over the years: "Mom, if it's not a hell yes, it's a hell no."
(I'm pretty sure sea turtles think this way too.)
When Mama finds her spot, with incredible patience, she digs a deep hole at the sand, flippers diligently shoveling one scoop at a time until she is confident that it is deep enough to protect her precious young.
She goes into a quiet trance, (just like us meditating!), as she lays her eggs.
Isn't is amazing how many beautiful things are birthed during meditation?
RELEASING THE OUTCOME
After laying her eggs and camouflaging the nest with flying flippers and sand, she releases the outcome of her efforts - most likely to her higher power.
She does not wait around for her young ones to hatch. She does not wonder how many of her 110 kids will be boys or girls. She does not worry about how many will actually make it to the sea.
She does not helicopter parent in any way.
No. She has faith.
She plays her vital role in preserving the species and gives it everything she's got, then surrenders the results to the forces of nature, to the wonders of the earth, to the power of divine order.
SINGING AND SWIMMING
Oh, sweet mama, thank you for showing us that birthing new things can be very hard work.
But that it is possible. Even under the most difficult circumstances.
There is hope.
It will take strength, determination, perseverance, acceptance, mindfulness, attention to our inner voice, patience, focus and surrender to something greater than we are.
And along the way we will be singing to ourselves and to each other.
Singing an alleluia of encouragement.
Singing a song of strength.
Singing a gospel of gratitude.
Singing an affirmation of self-compassion and self-love.
Singing a prayer of oneness.
Just keep swimming, we will sing to each other.
No matter how slow, difficult and isolating this whole thousand-mile journey feels, we are not alone, and the love we birth and offer to our new world matters.
The love we birth now matters.
In whatever form it takes.
The love we birth now truly matters.
In the mess and in the mystery;
In the broken-heart and in the beautiful;
In the tears and in the tenderness;
In the hardest days and in the hope;
In the grief and in the grace - we are birthing this love together.
Let's keep swimming.