Empty Your Bucket List!

My dream is to have a house on the beach, even just a little shack somewhere, so I can wake up, have coffee, look at dolphins, be quiet and breathe the air. ~ Christina Applegate

One of my favorite television shows as a little kid was Flipper, a fictional story set off the Florida Keys, with a dolphin, a game warden and his two sons, Sandy and Bud.

In the late 1960s, I was a long way from building a bucket list.  But I knew two things about the far-off some day:  One, I was going to run fast across the yard, throw my arms open wide and fly with the eagles and two, I was going to swim with dolphins.

I feel pretty happy about my .500 record.

Swimming with the dolphins

Have you ever seen or experienced something in nature that leaves you tearfully giddy?  I’ve seen some pretty awesome sights in my half century of living but few things match the experience of touching a dolphin for the first time.

Imagine the softest, most supple leather you’ve ever felt.  Swallow and Mancurio, the team that joined us in the pool at Dolphinaris in Cancun, graciously allowed us to touch them as they swam by in introduction.

Under the close watch of the trainers–each armed with high-pitched whistles and small Igloo coolers filled with fish–we kissed their bottle noses, shook their fins and held them like a baby on its back.

One look into Swallow’s onyx-colored eyes and I was a goner.  Over the moon.  Couldn’t feel my toes I was so elated.

And moved.  I was moved beyond words when he swam close and let me hold him.  Eyes closed, his jaw slightly parted, I think we were both transfixed in that one ethereal moment.

At least I’d like to think we shared a moment of timeless wonder.

I remember thinking, “How great thou art, you noble creature.”

The culmination of our time at Dolphinaris was a very fast swim with Swallow.

One by one, the members of our group swam out to nearly the far side of the pool and turned back to face the group.  We were instructed to stretch both arms out to our left and to be ready.

All of a sudden, a 300-pound mammal whooshed beside me.  He was on his back and I grabbed hold of his flippers and rode his belly–Oh My God!–at a 25- to 30-mph clip across the pool.  The ride only lasted only about six seconds but it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.

Savoring life’s experiences

You must try new things, take yourself on adventures and yes, even create a bucket list.  The feeling of  living, of connecting, with God’s creations, thrills your mind and captivates your heart in ways that are unimaginable when you only think about them.

You have to be present to experience the grace.  It can’t happen any other way.

Refuse the role of bystander in your life.  Reach up, reach out, and grab on to every morsel of living that life tosses your way.

And if any of your adventures take you swimming with a dolphin, please kiss that bottle nose for me.



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