Like so many others, I'm heartbroken and captivated by Tahlequah. From her grief to her sisters' support to the spotlighted reality of her kind's near extinction caused by us, one killer whale, with grace and power, is making us open our eyes to the realities of what we are all on the brink of.
It's no coincidence that we are all captivated by a whale. Whales are considered the record keepers, carrying the history of earth and the history of us all.
I find it so poignant that she was named (before any of this started) the same name as the capital of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, Tahlequah, which was established in 1839 after they were forced to leave their homeland on the Trail of Tears. Not Boston, not New Orleans, not Nashville. Tahlequah. A Native American word, a Native American Nation capital, a people who are stewards of the earth. There are so many layers of meaning here.
So what are we to do? One person can't save a species from extinction. One person can't un-dam the rivers, un-poison the oceans, stop yet another pipeline that will spill oil into the sacred waters. One person can't save the world.
But one one killer whale can mourn. One killer whale can hold her dead baby up as a mirror for us to see ourselves. One killer whale named Tahlequah can sing.
Whale songs are said to connect us to the ancients and the Great Star Nation. Interestingly, their songs reverberate into space, and at the same time their songs take us deeply into ourselves so that we can find our own answers, the only real Truth. And in finding our own individual truth, the world has a chance of being saved. One of us at a time.
Thank you, Tahlequah, for your sacrifice so that we may finally understand what's at stake. I am so grateful that you love us enough to try to save us. I am listening.
Artwork by Leah Piken Kolidas
"There is some strange intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive." ~Francis Weller