I recently watched an incredibly inspiring video of a pod of dolphins beaching themselves and being rescued by onlookers. Dozens of bystanders rushing into the water in desperation to save the lives of these beautiful creatures that would otherwise have died. Complete strangers working in community. No conversation necessary. The goal was clear. Two things struck me: One, the dolphins came unexpected, out of nowhere. And two, no one needed a reason or an explanation from the dolphins even though they are largely considered to be the second most intelligent animal on the planet.
Beaching. It’s doesn’t make any sense. It’s completely irrational. It makes reasonable individuals shake their heads. Scientists search for explanations that are not to be found. So why do dolphins beach themselves? Take themselves out of their otherwise comfortable worlds. Wash themselves onto unfriendly shores where they are doomed to certain death.
Guesses have been made. None of them a definitive answer. Global warming. Geography. Disease. Movement of prey. Something called decompression. Yes, I have actually done some research. Gasp. The reality is, we can’t know what is really going on when a dolphin throws itself onto a shore where it will likely meet its own end.
And we cannot always know what is happening in the mind of a suffering human being.
Pain, trauma, crisis, tragedy, loss, fear, illness. They do not discriminate. No one is immune. And they can be deceivingly covert. They will come unexpected, out of nowhere, and from some of the most intelligent people we know. We deceive ourselves in thinking otherwise.
What I am caught off guard by today is the reality of the disconnect between the human response between animals and other humans. The knowledge that the reaction from the public might not be so warm and fuzzy. Community oriented and unifying. Quite the opposite in fact.
It’s different when it’s one of our own. Why?
We will go to any lengths for a dolphin. A lion.
But a human?
And I’m not talking about the hero cop that stops the girl from jumping off the bridge. I’m talking about the average depressive that suffers the long suffocation that beaching would entail. Behind closed doors. In the quiet suffering of their own lives. The mother that has given of herself for her husband, her children, without recognition or thanks. Year in and year out. The single parent working three jobs just to make ends meet.
Likely to be ignored or unnoticed if not for the collective effort of the community and the conscious choice to be aware.
Because we cringe and move away from pain. It scares us. Makes us uncomfortable. And society wants there to be a reason. For things like resulting anxiety, depression, suicide to make sense. When the reality is, it just doesn’t. Especially for the sufferer.
For whatever reason: disease, geography, movement of prey, environmental changes, etc… Sometimes we just beach ourselves. Hoping and praying someone will be there. Push us back in the water. Pull us away from the ledge. Reach out a lending hand.
If you know or see someone beaching themselves, please don’t just watch or walk away. Don’t be afraid to help. To say something. Do something. Don’t be afraid to step in the water. Get your feet wet. Inconvenience yourself. You could be saving someones life.
Someones beautiful, precious life.