Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cool ‘Phinsights!

Ms. Mascot
Meet Eva, the new poster girl and dolphin mascot for Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. We met at
Dolphin Quest on the Big Island of Hawaii on January 2, 2009. Eva has more than an archetypal feminine name (Adam and Eve, Wall-E and Eva). She is the oldest dolphin of the twelve that make their home at this seaside attraction in the Hilton Resort complex, yet she can jump the highest at 38 years old!

It’s difficult to translate dolphin to human years, but “domesticated” dolphins can live into their forties, which makes our girl no spring chicken. As you can see, she’s quite adorable. We met her whole family, including “husband” Lono and daughter Pookie. Eva, my husband Tim, and I had a great time together, and she splashed lighthearted energy and vitality. Not only is Eva the embodiment of cool later living; she also weighs 300 lbs. and carries it off with complete grace and confidence. You don’t hear her whining about losing 30 lbs. before she’ll allow herself to be seen at the beach. She eats nearly that many pounds of fish a day!

I knew there was a reason why Tim and I drew Eva for our dolphin experience—to inspire my blog followers—and me. She has a Mona Lisa smile and a bubbly laugh. She knows much more than she can tell us, given our language barrier. I just know she’s full of cool ‘phinsights. I’m sure the many she inspired in me were simple reflections of our psychic connection.

Why Do Dolphins Fascinate Us?
Frankly, I never felt compelled to swim with the dolphins; it was Tim’s big dream. Scientists believe dolphins originally lived on land and left for the sea. Even though my experience was in the Pacific, I like this
short history of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, if you want to learn more.

Tim kept asking of the dolphins’ earth-to-sea exodus, “What do they know that we don’t?” I have heard it said that humans are the sentient beings on land; dolphins are the sentient beings in water. We share a connection in consciousness. For me, this connection translated into a feeling of relatedness, as if Eva and I had always known one another and always would … like we were part of the same extended family and shared genetic material that transcended words or explanations. We just “got” each other.

As our trip approached, I recalled my dear friend
Dana’s photos and rave experiences at the very same place with a different dolphin. Soon I had dolphin fever, too. By the time we got to Dolphin Quest (DQ), I was as jazzed as my husband. I figured myself for one of the luckiest people on earth to get the opportunity to meet some of these fellow mammals face to face.

Even so, we both worried about the appropriateness of taking dolphins out of the wild. Tim was concerned about what might happen to them, as they got too old to play with the paying tourists. We were reassured these dolphins are never “put out to pasture” and have a home for life at DQ. I am convinced by our experience that the staff is utterly devoted to them--and by our quizzing our handler and reading the DQ website, that these sweet and brilliant beings have a good life.

Captives’ Audience
Domestication in any form is a tradeoff between freedom and an easier, more protected life for the animals on some levels. There are passionate arguments both for and against it. We make a similar tradeoff when we domesticate dogs and cats, something humans have done for so long, few people think twice about it. The healing aspect of the interspecies bond is one of the pluses researchers don’t need to “prove” to anyone who has ever loved an animal companion. A lovely family with a handicapped daughter got a big, heartwarming dose of dolphin medicine the day we were at DQ. Dolphin Quest on the Big Island is sensitive to special needs. Those of us who needed a little extra help were literally tagged and treated as VIPs.

Looking Up
As usual, it was astrology and the sky that cued me into the principle I was seeing at work--the opposite concepts of wildness and domestication. Wildness, freedom, and revolution are represented by Uranus. Uranus is expansion, whereas Saturn represents contraction, confinement, and responsibility. Youth is Uranus; aging is Saturn. Life is sweet when this pair on the continuum of experience is balanced. There can be a lot of freedom, even within boundaries.

Growing older is scary in spots, especially as we see some of our physical abilities decline and medical conditions creep in. This hit home hard on this trip as Tim used a wheelchair for the first time at places that would have required long walks. We may not always have the complete freedom of “the wild” as we grow older. We may have to live in more contained environments, such as assisted living—with or near relatives. Even an “active 55-plus” community is a choice to limit our immediate neighbors to a group of people based on age and age-related attributes. I struggle whether or not a more homogenous community would be good for me … and if or I how I would handle the need for assistance at some point, if it becomes necessary.

Eva taught me that even within the safety of a more protected environment, happiness and social encounters still can thrive. Sure, she jumps and does tricks for the fish. (When people jump through hoops for their meals, it’s called a job.) Nevertheless, Eva was completely engaged with us, her human playmates.

I don’t doubt for a minute that she also jumps for joy.


Eileen Williams said...

Dear Joyce--

What a great post about your special swim with Eva. From the photo, she's a photogenic old gal. You can sense her spirit by her engaging smile and the snappy salute with her tail.
I'm so glad you and Tim savored so much of the Islands and treasured your long-awaited honeymoon. I hope got in a couple of stolen kisses on the beach. I know Eva would have approved of that!

Beverly Mahone said...

When I first saw you picture, "Flipper" came to mind. Remember him?

What a wonderful experience for you and your husband. You know, as I looked closely at the picture I thought she was admiring the color of your nail polish. It was certainly a Diva color!

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, Eileen. I agree; Eva is a cutie! We have other photos of Tim and I each kissing Eva ... and, of course, this being a honeymoon, we smooched each other lots, too. :)

Beverly, I loved Flipper as a kid. Our guide at Dolphin Quest, a hip 20-something young woman, told Eva she should check out my hot pink toenail polish when she went diving in the vicinity of my feet. (Same color as my finger nails.) She was definitely a Diva Dolphin!

Betty Lynch said...

I love your picture with Eva! What a wonderful opportunity. Thanks so much for sharing.

Wendy Y. Bailey l Group Mastery said...

Hi Joyce,
Clearly, this was an absolutely awesome experience! I'm certain it's one that you'll treasure always. THANKS for the insight into what makes dolphins so special. Their personalities make them just like people. Isn't that kewl!

Melodieann said...

I am sooo jealous! What a wonderful experience you have had. Eva certainly has what it takes to be a Diva! I think we DO need her as our mascot. Boomer Diva Eva!

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, everyone, for your warm and wonderful comments. Part of the thrill was knowing I would be able to share it with so many who would appreciate it. Mel, I was buying some things on Cafe Press today and discovered they even have a series of products that say "Dolphin Diva" on them. I think that confirms she belongs to the club, don't you?

Lady Lynn's Boutique said...

Thanks for this post. That is something I have always wanted to do. Hopefully one day I will be able to do it!
Diva's never get to old to do anything :)

Gregory Anne Cox said...

Ok, now I'm reinvigorated to get in the water with some dolphins. It's one of those dreams that never fades but what steps am I taking to make it a reality? None at the moment but what better time than now to create it with a time frame.
You never know what a blog post will do for someone. Not only did I love reading about your trip, a honeymoon? Congrats! but it reconnected me to a part of me that wants to be expressed.

Joyce Mason said...

Lynn, rock on about divas never being too old! Gregory Anne, thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know it inspired you. That's what I live for! Send me a photo when you have your Dolphin Day. They are just some of the coolest critters in all creation.

PopArtDiva said...

Oh, I loved this post - history links and all - gotta love our "dolphin sister boomer" Eva - like us, still a high kicking female despite her age and captivity.

I wonder, aren't we all captive in some manner? I like that you say we can still have joy even in a cage.

Remind me to tell you my dolphin dream sometime!