My goal for Solstice was to soak up the sun and listen to the sea. I walked along a rocky beach until I reached a sandy spot to lie down. Just as I remembered a spiritual teacher asking me to practice being a buoy, I looked up and saw this immediately front and center. Yup, a buoy. So I meditated. But then tears started to flow.
Even though this has apparently been discussed in the media for 8 months, I do not watch TV and only learned yesterday about the devastation of sea stars. Here are the thoughts that washed through me.
How do we live in a world without stars?
As a child in New Mexico I dreamed often in oceans, knew what it was to have fins, to glide free past whales and smooth grey creatures of the deep. I woke happy each time I visited these dreams. My bedroom walls were covered in posters of sea creatures.
At age 9 my family was blessed to spend a summer at a marine laboratory on a Pacific Northwest island where my dad had a teaching sabbatical. My world became tide pools. Darting fish, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles, and rainbows of sea anemones and stars. It was the happiest summer of my life.
(photo credit: Mark Epstein – who I hope does not mind since all my great sea star photos from last summer are unable to be transferred from my phone)
This month the stars are expected to be gone, wasting away in the millions along the entire West Coast of America.
I was asked to practice being a buoy. To rise atop the drama below. Yes I can. But I can also cry a river of tears for the stars of the sea.
For only a brief flash of a moment I felt like walking straight toward submersion, the ocean holding me to sleep.
I can only wonder if this is a tipping point of no return for the ecosystem so many are monitoring right now. It is one thing to read about a species of bird or animal dying in a jungle on the other side of the world. It is another to have an emotional connection with a beautiful creature woven through your own life disappear before your very eyes.
This video is from January, but now it is evident this is happening from Baja to Alaska. Die-offs have happened in the past, but never this widespread, never this many, and that is why this feels different. If anyone is seeing this in another ocean besides the Pacific, I would love a comment to let me know.
To reassure people who might read this that care about me, I know following my impulse to despair is not an appropriate answer to the question “What can I do?” Signing petitions, fasting and standing witness to the massive shifts happening ecologically are actions I can take. I am not concerned with end of Earth. She is resilient. I only fear the turmoil of culture shock, living in a world I hardly recognize. My most important action right now feels like listening, listening, listening to her and allowing myself to receive her gifts.