There is something powerful about doing the same activity again and again. It becomes a meditation, creating familiarity that comforts and challenges the bodymind to be present in different ways each time. I find this with walking, and live close to Roaring Beach, a 2km long stretch of coast in southern Tasmania. I walk this beach day after day. I tell myself it is for the benefit of the dog, who joyously, madly accompanies me. The dog tells herself it is for the benefit of the human.
It is the same walk, the same beach each time, but also different each day. I know the changing contours of this coastal stretch. It is an intimate place, to think and process and to enjoy the light and language of the sea. A place to stretch. A place for poetry.
The terrain has been mapped on my inner life too, drawn in daily presence, like a sacred carving. The sea has sculpted me, as much as the rocks on the shore that are being gradually eroded. This same sea erodes my disconnection from life. It wakes me up as I take each step on the shoreline. This is my beloved environment. When I can see this anew, I’m full of wonder, and compassion for this world, for the beauty of seaweed flung about or in the fleeting sparkle of green light reflected on a wave break. These are small things. So when something big happens, a profound astonishment follows.
Recently dolphins came to Roaring. The tide was way out. It was afternoon and I walked close to the sea edge, on packed sand. From one end of the beach to the other, they swam alongside. At first this seemed a happy coincidence. I watched their dark and shiny fins breaking the surface of the water, and tried to keep pace with them as they swam along the coast. Nobody else around but dolphins, at least 12, and me. After some time of this merry accompaniment, I stopped on the shore, looking as the dolphins played, less than 5 metres away, in shallow water. Suddenly two of them, in unison, rode a wave in. They were surfing! I could see their bodies through the clear wave and squealed with delight. I thought they may be beached, coming so close, but quickly they angled backwards, returning to the depths.
I continued to walk. They continued to swim, and dive, and jump out of the water at times. At the far end of the beach, where I could go no further, I turned to face them, and did not want the tribe to keep moving on. I waved my arms about and cried hello, making a real ruckus. A couple of dolphins came in and slowly their heads emerged from the water, looking in my direction, it seemed, for a brief and holy moment. And across the species divide, we made contact. It felt that we were curiously reaching out to each other. I understood their wild consciousness, so deep and alive and free. I wonder what they understood about my humanity.
Only through encountering wild things, am I able to be human, and make sense of things, to belong. It is wildness that makes us visible to ourselves, through a realisation that there is something vast and alive here. Consciousness has the ability to manifest so differently, so playfully in this world. It may be the curve of a sand dune or a more significant experience with sea creatures, but these encounters have the potential to bring us face to face with life itself. We are not alone in our beingness, which is wilder than we usually imagine. We are interconnected and there is peace and joy in this knowledge.