“Life is a celebration of awakenings, of new beginnings, and wonderful surprises that enlighten the soul.” – Cielo

The sun felt warm on my skin. It was mid-morning late in October and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt while walking my elderly dog, Rennie. Smiling, my heart was full of gratitude for the beautiful day.

I peered down the street towards the beach, only three blocks away, and wondered why there were sailboat masts bobbing up and down so close to shore. Earlier, I had read in the newspaper about the humpback whales feeding just outside the harbor. I wondered if the boats were there to see the whales. Excited, my pace quickened as I headed straight to the beach, away from our usual route, dragging Rennie by the leash.

Approaching the beach, I saw hundreds of pelicans and seagulls circling in the air, some diving for fish, creating huge white splashes of water. There were also dozens of kayaks, paddle boards, sail boats and motor boats floating as if gathered for a party. They must be watching the whales, I thought.

Then, a sleek black hump surfaced in the water, white spray shooting straight up into the air. Close by, another spray of water doused a nearby kayaker. There must have been half a dozen whales. I starred in amazement as these large creatures appeared and disappeared into the liquid mystery. With my eyes fixated on the surface of the ocean, I anxiously awaited their next appearance.

As Rennie and I settled on the beach to witness this celebration of life a local resident stopped to chat. Excited, he said, “I’ve never seen anything like this and I’ve lived here since the early 80’s!” On-lookers scattered the beach some with binoculars. Like me, they wanted to take part in this historic event.

I continued to gaze at the commotion and noticed a seal bobbing up and down the waves as it traveled the length of the beach. A pod of dolphins soon appeared, surfacing and diving in pairs feeding on the frenzy of ocean nutrients the whales had stirred up. Taking in the abundance of life, tears trickled down my cheeks as I thought, “I can’t believe I live here. This is my back yard. How can it possibly get any better than this?”

Then, out of no where, a sea otter appeared, on its back facing the sky, floating near the beach break right in my line of vision. That’s when I lost it. Sobbing, tears of joy surfaced from deep within me as I opened to fully receive the abundance all around me.

Reflecting on this ocean magic, it occurred to me that all of the hardship I had endured (moving twice, being hospitalized, etc.) the last several months in getting me here to this place, in this moment had been well worth it. I realized that everything I had been through was all part of the higher plan for my life and was moving me towards the fulfillment of my dreams.

I also wondered if I would have been able to deeply receive the beauty and magic all around me if I hadn’t gone through the challenging times. It was as if the tears I had cried and the pain I had suffered had carved a deeper well that also contained my joy. I understood on a new level, poet Kahil Gilbran’s quote, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”

With this new awareness, my trust in life continues to grow.

Ultimate freedom has nothing to do with your life circumstances – it is the freedom of allowing the self to dissolve into the waves of the ocean. It is the freedom that is born through one’s absolute trust in life.” – Richard Rudd