Whale Magazine :
The Power of One
by Ann DiBerardinis
Encountering a Humpback Transforms a Woman's Life
How could I have dreamed that a Humpback whale could so deeply
change my life? It happened like this.
My family and I were on vacation in Hawaii and all
wanted to see the legendary Humpback whales. Out of several options at the pier we saw a tour that was sponsored by a local non-profit foundation. We chose that one as it seemed to offer the most educational experience.
One of our sons got seasick as we churned through the sea looking for whales. The naturalist on board warned us that we may or may not see whales that day-- that nothing is predictable on the sea. She explained that whales are wild animals, and very intelligent. They choose where they go and if they want to be around boats and humans or not. We are in their world.
After about 45 minutes our tense anticipation was broken by the cry, “Whale!" I jumped to attention and spun to follow the pointing fingers and eyes as the naturalist’s voice jumped an octave. "Two o’clock! Starboard side!" she shouted. I strained
my eyes, scanning in the general direction. Moments later a huge, dark shape gracefully emerged from the depths about thirty feet from the boat, and slowly sank again as if in slow motion. My chest clenched and my eyes widened in awe as I watched a magnificent creature surface a second, and a third time. Then it disappeared.
All I could think was, "It’s SO huge . . . and yet SO graceful!" I had never known those two things could exist in the same space. My mind struggled to process this new, profound relationship with the awe and pure joy of a child discovering the world for the first time.
That night, in my hotel cabin
with the rest of my family asleep, I was sitting on the floor
staring at Humpback whale images, reliving the memory of the whale
sighting that day. The only way I can explain what happened next is
the following. Without warning I felt my heart and chest melt
into the image and then "expand" into a seemingly limitless space - a
space that included a world above the sea, under the sea, with the
limitless sky above and beyond. And the whales were there,
striding the thin membrane between water and air.
As I become aware of what I was
experiencing I felt a little frightened, but at the same time did
not want to lose the euphoria I was feeling. I wanted to
tell someone about what was happening. Should I wake my husband from his sleep? What would I
say? What would he say? No, that wouldn’t help.
I stayed in the vision for maybe an hour, trying to understand what was happening to me and
why. There was nothing really to do, but just flow with it. I can’t remember exactly how I came out of that space, only that I was aware I couldn’t stay
there for long. Afterwards, I puzzled over the meaning of it, unable to put it into any known context.
The next day I tried to explain to Jim
what had happened to me the night before. Words seemed