Last week we spent a few days in San Diego. It was a gift to have some time near the sea and, although I also spent two days editing, the advantage of freelance work is that I can do it anywhere that has internet access! One of the highlights of our trip was a whale watch where we got amazingly close to both whales and dolphins.

dsc_8240cAt one point, a group of dolphins literally sped straight toward us, head-on, then changed course and swam alongside, directly under the front bow of the boat. It was exhilarating to have them underneath us, swimming along at our pace, clearly enjoying the chance to move in sync with us and be our traveling companions for a brief portion of our journey. Just as quickly as they arrived, they disappeared, moving on to whatever was next for their day.

In contrast, we had to go in search of the whales. Rather than being full-time residents of the area, these were the travelers, moving through this patch of ocean on the early stages of their 6,000-mile journey from lagoons in Mexico to the islands off Alaska. Fortunately for us, another whale-watch boat had encountered a group of three California gray whales and we were able to take our turn in accompanying those whales for a brief portion of their journey before speeding back to San Diego in time for a late lunch.

dsc_8490eOur boat captain proposed that two of the whales were mating, or close to doing so, and certainly they were not just spouting and diving. There was a lot of twisting and rolling, and I got some amazing pictures of the two of them swimming close to and around each other. But, unlike the dolphins, they really weren’t paying attention to us; they were on their own journey, with their own agendas, and we were just privileged to move alongside of them for a while.

Upon reflection after our journey was over, I found myself thinking about the different ways that we companion others in our own lives. Henry and I sat next to a pair of local residents on the first part of our journey. We enjoyed some conversation—she and I about photography and the whales, the two men about their prior experiences of life near the ocean—and the excitement of our encounters with these magnificent ocean creatures. She was the one who made me aware that our encounter with the whales had been amazingly close and unusual. But those human encounters were also brief; we didn’t trade business cards or say anything about keeping in touch. Instead, we acknowledged our gratefulness for the opportunity to share this amazing experience, then moved on.

In contrast, of course, Henry and I have been traveling together for 23 years now. We’ve had a number of such brief encounters through the years. Some of them have shaped our lives, while others have enriched it. But each connection with momentary traveling companions has become a piece of the mosaic that is our life. Whether they help us remember prior experiences or bring us new information that enriches the present moment, they are blessings in our lives.

Take a moment to remember a recent chance encounter with some momentary traveling companions. What gift did you bring? What did you receive? How might your own life be enriched by more intentionally participating in, and giving full attention to, those moments in your life?

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