The Sea of Cortez is a magical place: humpback whales gather and have their young, hammerhead sharks swirl in the depths, and this week I saw a video about the flying Mobula Rays. It sounds like a punk band from the ‘80s, doesn’t it? Or maybe a circus act.
And they do resemble a circus act! Rays, fifteen to seventeen feet across, breach the waves and flap their wings, flying into the sky like gigantic bats. Marine biologists tell us the rays do it to attract mates. (Of course they would say that. They are the horniest group of freaks on the planet.) Don’t get me wrong, sex is pretty fabulous… but what if it were something else going on here…some other reason besides making the most impressive leap to make the biggest boom to attract a mate?
What if they leap out of the water…
to reach for the sky
to see how things are going on terra firma
to get a closer look at things
to make a decision about their lives in the deep
to inform others what awaits them on the other side…
…to tell their mothers and grandmothers what has become of their ancestors – that branch of relatives that split off from the family to crawl through the mud and onto dry land?
Hundreds of thousands years ago we crept out of the mire onto dry land for good, leaving behind that branch of our family tree that decided to continue in the depths. It must have felt like going to Mars. To make such a journey, to know, yet perhaps not fully understand, we could never go back. From that time on we were a fractured family: each branch longing for the other, yet fragmenting further and further along our DNA chain.
We face choices every day: we can divert from the path set down by our ancestors or remain steady in the stream of things, going with the norm, filling our lives with the expected. It takes courage to be different, to shoot out of the water and into the sky.