Were we ever to take the time to think about how interconnected our lives are, we could well be picking jaws up off the floor for weeks. There’s the whole six degrees of separation thing, but even if we were to remove the people and look at connectivity through places, it would be just as remarkable.
While walking Silver Strand in Mayo recently, we came across a dead baby seal. It was lying on the road by the car park; quite a distance from the sea. The displacement force of high tides coupled with stormy conditions were evidenced by the seaweed and rubbish trapped in the fences. Unbelievable. The seal had obviously been washed up and then never made it back to the water. Its death didn’t put in on me one way or another; it was simply another casualty of life. I didn’t even wonder at how inured I’ve become to such things – I’m sure there was once a time when I’d have felt something other than the passing ‘what a shame’ the carcass invoked in me. When did I stop feeling?
Some days later, we stopped by Old Head, yet another of Mayo’s gorgeous beaches. It was late afternoon and the sun was playing with the light. Everything was bathed in the pastel pinks and blues that belong in a baby’s nursery. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Standing at the end of the water, looking out across the sea, we spotted a seal. It would pop its head out of the water and scour the beach before swimming on a short distance and popping up again. It seemed to be searching for something. We walked with it as it made its away around the pier and over to the other side, never changing its routine.
And then the penny dropped – it must have been looking for its missing baby. When that thought was voiced, everything changed. Imaginations let loose. Empathy levels surged. Three days searching for a baby lost at sea. Three days of recriminations for losing them in the first place. Three days of angst and desperation as she combed the west coast looking for a sign of life. Now that I could feel.
We could connect the dots (however fancifully) because we’d been in both places. And we had the time to do so, too.
Nearly two weeks later and that mother seal still pops into my head. It might seem like a ridiculous fight of fancy to some, but for me, it taught me, once again, the value of being aware, of being present, of living the moment, of taking the time to see…. really see…. what’s going on around me. And for that lesson, I’m truly grateful.