He reclined on smoothed boulders on the edge of the Pacific. He rested there near a small pueblo, Rosalillita, where a crescent of white sand alternated with dark carved out tide pools. Fishing boats lined the shore on one side of the village. We made camp at the other. the shiny sculpted creature opened one big black saucer eye and then the other. I came within 20 feet before he raised his whiskered nose to scent my dog and I, weaving his whole head back and forth in figure eights high in the air. He let me get within ten feet and it became clear that he was one sick pup. His ribs were visible.
He laid his head down again when I stopped scooting down the rocks, and after a time sitting together, examining one another, he closed his eyes. I noticed he had little twigs of ears. A surprise to me. I later found Seals and Sealions are grouped by the abscence or presence of that Shreklike feature. I stayed with him and drank my morning coffee.
Later in the afternoon we raced the incoming tide back to camp carrying big black muscles in my straw hat. He waded out of the surf, looking as all sea lions do as if he was rudely made sans hind legs and had to hoist himself around on front legs like the legless man on Porgy and Bess. He met Moxy on the beach. They exchanged barks and I called Moxy away, not wanting the poor Waterpup to expend his energy reserves playing Poodle games.
He came up on the rocks again the morning of our departure and I sat with him eating my cereal and yogurt, trying to talk seal talk. A growling purr. Not pretty. Rough like German. Then switched to sweet talking in English. Moxy sat by me respectfully now. Again he was subdued, but we were happy he made it through the night. I’d seen seals out there leaping above the waves a bit. Hunting? Being hunted? I wished him well. It was a rare gift for me to be so close to a Sea lion in the wild. I know that they are social animals and he seemed to enjoy or at least tolerate the quiet company in his weakened state. We sat with him quite a long time and he closed his eyes and seemed to relax in the rising sun. It reminded me of the strong tradition of my native friends back home to gather round a grieving or injured or sick one and simply be there. Just be there. Sometimes it seemed to me like an awfully long vigil.
My sense of shared time and tempo sharpened with that visit with the seal. I am also learning from the Mexicans about tempo.
I read that the bigger the city and the more economically advantaged, the faster people walked. I caught myself zipping through a little grocery in Loreto and noticed I was acting like I was on the clock, and became conscious of my pace among the other shoppers..the only one in a hurry. Why was I hurrying? I am retired! Nobody is timing me! Am I hopelessly entrenched in my “time famined” american lifestyle?
Tempo, according to an interesting article is directly related to economy. A well done study actually clocked folks walking and carrying out certain purchases in many geographic locations and the common denominator for increased tempo was economy. Time is money right? Heat played a small part, but not nearly so much as the state of the economy.
This made me feel a bit differently about wishing the world out of poverty. What price wealth? I wonder is it worth it? We only get so many sunrises or sunsets per person.
The article cited an Afghan man who was looking for his brother in Kabul the bewildered American Embassy was trying to help and finally learned that he had forgotten to tell his brother what YEAR to meet him in this city! Wow. Talk about culture shock, huh?
So I sat with the seal and the dog, each of us thinking our own thoughts, passing our time in dog years, seal years, or human years, each to his own internal ticking clock of a heart and laughed at my own childishly impatient ways. I thought of what the
Trinidad fellow said to his frustrated American colleague, psychologist James Joyce who had been waiting a whole day for him, “calm down mon, I am here now, da sea she ain’t goin nowhere.”
Quotations excerpted from a geography of time by Robert Levine