Piccola Tartarugas Marina. (Little Sea Turtles)

Once I saw sea turtles hatch. As I watched, it occurred to me that their vulnerability is so profound that I can’t imagine how their species has survived as long as it has. The whole experience would have been incredibly beautiful if I hadn’t been so stressed out that they weren’t going to make it.

I am not a marine biologist, but I remember some stuff. Here are some of the things that have to happen for a sea turtle to exist:

  1. Eggs must be laid in a specific place. They typically return to their birthplace to lay their eggs. If some dudes are there playing frisbee or listening to loud music, or riding a four-wheeler, they will skip it altogether. Hard pass. No nest. No eggs. No new baby turtles.

  2. They make a nest in the sand, drop a few rounds of eggs in there, and bounce. Goodnight and good luck.

  3. Delicious little baby turtle eggs are ALL ALONE! Raccoons and birds want to eat them, people step on them, cars run over them.

  4. One day, they hatch in cute little batches. They are about the size of a silver dollar with adorable little flipper feet and ahead.

  5. As soon as they are born, they listen for the ocean. If a human is on the phone nearby or having an argument, or playing the ukelele, the turtle can’t hear the ocean and they get lost. Game over.

  6. They climb up and slide down the tiny little mounds of sand with absolute determination - moving without hesitation to their certain destiny - the ocean. They do this before taking a nap or eating a meal or resting. They hatch. They move. Hopefully, they don’t get stepped on, or eaten by a seagull or a golden retriever or run over by a bicycle.

  7. The walk into the sea and swim. They just swim. I think many of them get eaten or choke on plastic.

I can’t lie; when I saw this, I thought it was great that I could be there to facilitate their existence. I guess it’s funny when I think about it that I felt so responsible for them. I didn’t even know them. They didn’t even notice me. But there we were together on a beach and I watched them and prayed with all my heart that they would survive and make it to the ocean and survive some more.

Each of the 15 or so little turtles made it to the water. The gulf didn’t even notice - she couldn’t be bothered to splash. They just started swimming. I don’t know where they were going. They did but didn’t care.

Sea turtles survive because they have strong instincts. They understand their dharma. They know how to read the signals of their bodies and the environment around them. They are undistracted. Nobody has planted the seeds of desire in them and made them want anything abstract.

I think we are all born like that. We are born to some people, they mostly keep us safe, we are all listening for our heart’s desire, we are trying to live out our dharma. The problem is, it’s hard to hear. There is so much noise! There are radios, and frisbees, and raccoons, and dogs, and cars, and the bigger we get the louder the noise. Now there are kids and bills and deadlines and wars and presidents and a very ill society that is just too loud.

I want to learn how to live like a sea turtle. I want to wake up, hatch from my bed, and do the things that I need to survive and then find myself swimming in the sea. I want to be completely finished with distraction. I want to be in a room with just my breath and feel like everything is going to be ok, including me.

I am taking a trip to Italy. I am going to try so hard to be quiet. I am going to retune the senses. I am going to find out what it is like to sit with myself. I am going to try to hear my heart’s desire.

I am taking this trip on the advice of a friend. She gave me these sweet words of encouragement that I couldn’t resist. I felt seen. I felt like I was that baby sea turtle and she was standing over me saying prayers that I would make it to peace and safety.

I think I know a lot and I have learned how to live without having much trust in people. Trust is a skill I am trying to hone. I am deciding to trust my friend and take this journey. This is a journey of faith. I will see you on the other side. Ciao! Ci vediamo dall'altra parte!