Sometimes I’m thankful for the small things in life: a cuddle from a daughter, a cat or a husband (I only have one of those, but two each of the others!) Actually, I’m pretty thankful I only have one husband: two would be too many! Far too much snoring for a start.
Well now! I had no idea this post was going to take that sort of direction. I thought I was sitting down to write something deep and spiritual, something where I discussed the meaning of life – the purpose of life even. Yet it seems this post has ideas of its own – I first typed porpoise of life instead of purpose. Actually it’s apt. Apart from cats, which are the best for cuddling, porpoises and their close cousins, the dolphins, have to be my favourite animals. Seeing a dolphin leap makes my spirits soar. It has only happened a few times in my life, but each time – wow, oh wow!
I’m reading Stephen King’s “On Writing,” at the moment. (Review will come next Friday.) He mentions somewhere in the book that people find some experiences so amazing that they are indescribable. He also says that to be “a successful writer, you must be able to describe it and … cause your reader to prickle with recognition.” So now I feel duty bound to describe what it is like to see a dolphin leap.
Okay, I’ll take you on a trip now, off the coast of Chile.
Kitted out with lifejackets, we climbed down a ladder to board a white fibreglass boat. Early morning mist began to clear as we set off, and by the time we reached Choros Island the sun was shining.
“Seawolves,” our guide said, pointing. On the rocks above, sealions yawned and wrapped their flippers around each other.
We went through a narrow archway where our guide pointed to a rocky beach. “Walrus,” he said. We couldn’t see it, and guessed he’d got it wrong again. He probably thought walrus meant: “wall of rocks.” Then one of the rocks waved at us. Except, of course, it didn’t, of course it was a walrus’s flipper.
We chugged back though the archway, and out to the open sea. The guide had promised dolphins, said they were always in the area. We headed in one direction and then another, but the all we could see was the Pacific Ocean. The dolphins weren’t going to come. It was going to be just like the times we went whale watching off New England, and saw none. We scanned the waters all around, hoping to catch a glimpse of fin in the distance. Still nothing.
Suddenly, metres away, dark grey shapes appeared in the water. They’d sneaked up and surprised us. Throughout the boat, people gasped. On one side of me, my elder daughter grabbed my arm. “Oh!” she said. “Oh, look!” Her eyes were shining. I knew she would be feeling the same internal dancing that I did. On the far side of my husband, our younger daughter stretched over for a better look. Dad leaned back, she scrambled towards us.
The dolphins had come to say hello. There was no other explanation, they could have had any part of the ocean, and they choose the part right next to our boat. Thank you, dolphins, thank you.
And then, after a gentle leap, they were gone.
I’m not sure if I’ve managed to convey what I wanted to, but I’ve done my best. I am thankful for dolphins, because even just thinking about them gives me a sense of joy. And yeah, I’m thankful to Stephen King for the push to describe what feels indescribable.
Can you spot the walrus? Answers on a postcard please to: the-ends-of-the-earth.com
Actually, I’m grateful to Stephen King for more this week. I have never read a single one of his novels and don’t know if I ever will, though his book about writing is so good I am now tempted. I guess what I like best is that he agrees with me! Yes, Stephen King says very similar stuff about adverbs that I did about adjectives. And he doesn’t plot his novels. He just gets his idea and then he’s off, letting the novel write itself.
There will be a full review coming on Friday so be sure to book your ticket/seat. Or at least subscribe to be sure you don’t miss out! See, this is me trying to market my blog and I’ll thank you in advance for subscribing. You can do it by email, or you can go to my brand new Facebook Page, where I will be sure to forget – I mean remember to post all the latest updates on my blogs and books. Actually, it’s not really a new FB page, but I’ve only worked out what to do with it just as FB are driving everyone away with their algorithm nonsense. Timing never was my strong point. Still, I’m thankful to have all these ways to connect. And it does have a new photo, which I also posted on my main FB profile and was totally surprised by the number of “likes” received.
Here’s the walrus again so you can have another go at finding it. Clue: it’s near the middle, but, sorry, it is refusing to wave for you.
One last thing about why I’m grateful to Stephen King: reading that he also just lets the story write itself seemed like permission to do what I already do. I’d always slightly worried that this way was used only by literary writers who sell books in their hundreds instead of their millions. So I had a nagging feeling that maybe I ought to sit down and plot my stories to the nth degree, rein in those wayward characters and make them follow the formula for success. But if not plotting is good enough for Stephen King, it’ll do for me! So yesterday I worked on a short story all morning. I wrote by hand so didn’t even switch on my computer until the first draft was done. Every now and then the story went off in a different direction to my plan and I had a mild panic. (Can panic be mild?) Then I just carried on. The ending was not what I’d expected, and I like that. The story still needs a lot of work, but already I have new ideas for parts of it, and I feel enthused and sparkly about writing fiction again whereas it had begun to feel almost like a struggle.
I have no idea if I’ve reached ten things of thankful, but I’m so utterly delirious with gratitude for the release and relief I’ve felt this week, both about writing and about a long-standing issue (that I will write about sometime but not now) that every thankful feels like a thousand.
If you’d like to join in the Ten Things of Thankful hop, or to read more posts, then click on the button below.
And if you’re still hunting for that walrus, let me put you out of your misery.