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seeking serendipity

{{de|Schwanzflosse eines jungen Buckelwals (Me...
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It still gives me goosebumps. 

Just one more story about our Kona coast vacation:  In the mornings and evenings, we relaxed on our lanai (can’t get enough of that word–much more exotic than “deck”) and searched the horizon for spinner dolphins and humpback whales, as advertised.  It seems the dolphins were on holiday that week, but we were thrilled to see a couple of whale tail flips way out in the distance.

A couple days later, my son found the house’s guest journal, which advised us to turn on the outside floodlights in the evening so the manta rays might visit.  It seemed a bit far-fetched to me.  The lights didn’t illuminate the water well, and the water was dark.    I didn’t quite understand how we would see them at all.  Yet the instructions were quite specific, so instead of settling in to watch American Idol that night, we stood at the railing in the dark, watching the waves crash in on the a’a

I felt like an idiot.

And then THERE. . . HE . . . WAS:

manta gliding away
Creative Commons License photo credit: g-na

At first we could just barely spot the jet black shadow in the water, but he was definitely the real deal.  Dubbed “Manta Ray Charles” by the houseguests, Charlie spread at least seven feet across.   He sailed back and forth in the hard-crashing waves, scooping up plankton attracted by our floodlight in his bizarre, eerily glowing mouth thing (a very technical term).   He would flip up the white underside of his fins, almost waving “hello” as he turned in a beautiful dance

I was spellbound.  This farm-raised desert girl watched the alien creature coast to and fro in the night, gracefully dodging the rocks and waves.  Then suddenly he glided off to visit the resort up the coast where folks pay a lot more money to watch this same show. 

Charlie’s little brother (maybe four feet wide) visited the next night.  But we didn’t see them again, perhaps because we weren’t looking so intently. 

We almost completely missed this wonder in the dark.  I’m not sure, but Manta Ray Charles might visit that house every night.  If we hadn’t read the journal, we wouldn’t have been looking, and I wouldn’t have this little story to tell. 

Charlie makes me wonder about the other beautiful things we miss because we’re not looking for them.  If we’re not open to the possibility–if we’re not out there, present in the moment, anticipating something great–we might as well just be watching TV. 

I’ve always been a big fan of serendipity, the act of unexpected discoveries.  But in order to discover, we have to be paying attention. 

Charlie taught me to seek serendipity.  Even in the dark times, something cool could happen.

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8 comments to seeking serendipity

  • Carol H.

    Pam: Thanks for sharing all about your vacation. Isn’t it amazing how nature can surprise us!
    This story reminds me to look for serendipity, even in (yawn) Michigan.
    –Carol

  • Penny Chally

    Ann sent this – as well as “back to the mainland” – to me. I very much enjoyed your thoughts and the pictures. One of our favorite memories of the Big Island was the kayaking with our kids to Captain Cook’s, the picnicing, the snokeling, and then the spinner dolphins joining us on the way kayaking back. Another time we and our children still talk about was our sitting on the wall (now covered with lava) at dusk, and into the night, watching the lava coming down the hill, over a newly formed ledge and into the water. The making of new land is so awe inspiring. How wonderfully lucky we are to have these lifetime experiences and to be able to share them with those we love.

  • Sounds like you had an inspiring time — thanks for sharing the photos! Makes me wish I could be there…

    Cindy L’s last blog post..Circus act

  • pam

    Thanks so much to all of you for reading and listening. For me it helps cement the memories and meaning of the journey.

  • pam

    Penny, thanks so much for reading! It means so much to hear about your memories and experiences on the island too.

  • There is something so amazing about seeing these creatures in the wild, in their natural habitat. The serenity of it leaves me speechless. Their beauty is spellbinding.

    My serendipitous forays into the wild include riveting sightings of: a blue whale, a herd of giant sea turtles, a great blue heron, and a black bear! But sometimes even the deer in my backyard take my breath away!

    Thanks you for reminding us all what those magical moments feel like…and to create more opportunities for them.

    charrette’s last blog post..A Mother’s Reach

  • [...] So we enter 2010 with a new perspective on who is welcome or not in our home.  That’s what New Year is all about, isn’t it?  Out with the old ideas and in with the new.  I wonder what other unexpected delights the new year will bring?  Here’s to paying attention and seeking serendipity.  [...]

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