In a dream last night, a friend showed me a video where orcas lunged at seals on ice floes as if toying with them before eating them. She handed me a list she’d written of why orcas are cruel-hearted. “They’re killer whales, after all,” she scoffed.
“Well, it depends on the context,” I told her. “And who’s trying to frame the orcas.” I felt drawn to orcas and wanted to believe in their best. “Their behavior can be perceived in different ways by different sources. They could have gotten it wrong.”
I wanted to believe that all animals can teach us something. Even if the orcas were sadistic, it mirrors a part of us humans which does exist. Pretending like it doesn’t exist doesn’t change the fact.
Later, my friend and I were in a cave when an orca showed up. I stayed hugging the edges of the cave, keeping myself away from the water. Despite my words, I felt some healthy fear with these giant creatures. The black of their fins and bodies. I remembered the way the killer whales lunged out of the water in the video my friend had showed me.
She turned to look at me, also staying as clear from the water as possible in the cave, before running.
It was just me and the orca. I didn’t know this orca and its personality. I felt my heart racing. My views of orcas were perhaps romanticized by fictional media and famous trained whales.
This whale swims up closer.
I tried to contextualize my understanding of whales. Is my wholesome admiration awe all from fiction? Yes, my first connections and appreciations did come from a movie and captive whales. But what about all the stories I’d read of wild orcas saving people and even dogs? What of their intelligence and deep presence? What of the fact that an orca actually killing a person is incredibly rare?
Or was I wrong?
The orca is motionless in the water.
It’s humans who named the orca. But of course orcas killed their prey. They had to, to survive. Everyone exists somewhere on the food chain.
Orcas are in the dolphin family. What did that mean about them, in connection to the friendliest joyfullest ocean animals I knew of?
I didn’t know. All I had were others’ stories and my biased, idealistic fascination for these animals.
And this whale? Who was this whale?
In all the time I spent dithering there in nervousness, I hadn’t actually looked directly at the whale. I was just in my head, running through all my ideas of whales since I had found myself in a direct encounter with one.
I wanted to know this whale. What if this whale was a wise being who could be a direct messenger from the divine? Who knew what would happen?
I had to look that whale in the eyes. I had to tune into the energy that was really here, and use my gut to see how it felt. I didn’t know the whale’s intention at present, and couldn’t fit it into a box. The main thing I could do was sense into my body and trust my heart and intuition.
Not only did I have to look at the whale, I had to fully see and acknowledge the situation before I could know how best to act. This was a miraculously exciting (and scary) opportunity, and it was up to me. Trusting myself, and the whale, could mean the difference between life and death.
I turned to face the orca with its dignified dorsal fin rising tall out of the water over its crescent shaped body, striking white oval marking right above its eyes.
Insights from this dream: Each situation and person is different. Sometimes no blanket statements are possible.
This speaks to the importance of having multiple stories. There can be a popular mainstream way to understand the world. But views can be limited.
You have a unique path. Sometimes it differs from those around you. Stories are one way to discover possibilities and find words to identify with what is most true.
The diversity of stories also is a reminder that nothing can replace intuition and the inner wisdom of knowing the specific situation.
As the number of stories and voices increase, sometimes it’s important not to believe everything which is written. Do you know who’s trying to frame the orcas, and why? Ask your gut and listen for your heart and body’s answers.