The Hugging Stage

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What I’m about to tell you happened a long time ago and is no longer legal, but it is a true story.

Once upon a time in the Florida Keys there were no rules or laws about swimming with wild dolphin, so we swam with wild dolphin. This story happened at least 24 years ago, when a fellow captain asked me to teach him to be a Wilderness Guide too. The rapport had built for 20 years or so with the local dolphin and I, we had developed a trust and respect for each other that made for exceptionally great relating from a mystical perspective. This day, we went out in Tom’s boat, so I could introduce the dolphin to him personally from his vessel. After anchoring in their playground, we put out a long float line behind the boat and Tom and I slipped in quietly and lay there communing with the dolphin through our thoughts as we felt the very strong tidal current tugging us away from the boat.

We could hear the dolphins’ clicks and squeals as we lay there. If we held our breath we could hear them better, they were all around but a least 50 yards away with some coming closer to check us out. I began telling them about Tom and his wish, in my kind of head-to-head talk, just as the dolphin work with extra sensory perception, ESP, this is known as ‘prayer’ by me. I wanted them to trust him as they do me.

A recent new mother, Razor, came by with her baby. I named her for the shape of her dorsal fin, a straight edge with frayed marks from the teeth of other loving dolphin, and she had to be at least 7 years old for this to be her first baby. I was present the day she had given birth. Drifting through the area never turning the engine on, just playing quiet lullaby music. This baby was familiar with the music he heard that day when I had just returned from Peru and so I named him Inca. 

Imagine this with me: Razor is 10 feet away with Inca by her side. We are holding the line to not get swept away by the current. She raises her head and so does Inca. I see a picture in my head of me letting go, and in a flash I realize she wants me to trust her. No hesitation, our eyes lock and with a happy shout, I dive. Tom, being the wise captain of already 20 years, climbed back in the boat and pulled up the anchor so the boat can drift with me as I swim with Razor and Inca. Feeling exhilaration as we match each other’s moves, we are doing water ballet together. We rise and laugh and everyone in the boat is cheering. Closer and closer she gets until her pectorals are touching me. My mind is exploding with JOY. Inca is loving the show and is inches away too. I am totally accepted. It strikes me that Razor is also teaching her baby to trust me too. I match Razor’s moves and we exchange for a good 10 minutes that seemed like an eternity. No fins on, only a mask and snorkel, I knew that I was being gifted as the current is in control….Razor is enjoying this as much as me! She feels my exhaustion and rises to say goodbye and I wave and say “Let’s do this again soon,” as she goes on to her next lesson for Inca.Everyone in the boat saw all of this through the calm, ultra-clear aqua sea that is our playground.

When I got back in the boat everyone was talking at the same time. They all wanted to know why I hadn’t hugged her back? I went into my teaching mode, that you know so well and said what I have always said to you. “Never reach out from your body. Wild animals run from things coming at them, also you wouldn’t like it if someone came at you on the first date.” Tom needed to know this too, for his guiding. However, it had never occurred to me that this wasn’t our first date, the dolphin and I. After so many years of interaction, we truly had come to the “HUGGING STAGE” of our relationship. Yet, not reaching out to her with my hands allowed me to reach out to her with my heart instead.


Tom went on to being trusted too. Razor is now around 31 years old and has had 10 babies, with a new one last year that is just precious named Sage for being born in Sagittarius. They have a baby every 3 years if all goes right and Razor is a home-schooling mom, and she keeps her family close together.

The realization that they had downloaded me like an electronic disk, back then a floppy, into their computer brains made me know our inter-species communication was alive and well. I just sat, fully dazed, with the feelings of euphoria from all those endorphins having been released in my brain, by being in true joy for such an extended amount of time with the dolphin. It felt like I was floating on air and took a long time to come down. This is what I call a “rocking chair memory” something to be forever thankful for.  Thankful I am still making them and never want to quit. Rocking Chair memories are going to be of a different kind now with Captain Erin at the helm, as I continue to pass on this living legacy of fun filled days sitting with all of you. For that, I am so grateful for you in my life. You will hear a bit more things like navigation and seamanship as we go on together. Erin will do the teaching and I will be there to answer questions and guide her to uncover her own ways of connecting to the dolphin we consider family. Seeing my world through her eyes, that of our next generation of captain and guide, is a greatly anticipated joy I am ready for. 

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