orca

A Boy Who Was an Orca

by rainteller

A Boy Who Was an Orca

Epigraph

A genuinely curious man once asked me: “How come you believe in the sacred and the mystical your stories tell about?” To which, with an honesty equalying his, I answered: “I do not believe. I experience.” Soon, the man had an “aha” moment, and a tiny bit of the connection between him and his spirit was regained.

I

Orca spots that cover my body…
Oh, black and white symphony, I am losing myself in thee!

I am swimming!
Different… How was I born? Myself. Orca. Me.

Orca spots that cover my body,
And orca head that is but my head.

Orca’s trunk and orca’s tail
Attached to my own orca-like head.

Orca spots that cover my body…
Black and white symphony of profoundly natural ways.
Unseen my true skin remains
To the eyes of so many a man on most of my wonderful days.

II

My story begins in a kindergarten. I suppose everybody’s story begins in some kindergarten. The time when one faces other ones. The time one is prohibited to do quite a lot, quite often, and is forced to do unwanted things when the time to do so clearly isn’t right. Like sleeping time. I don’t know if you carry similar experiences, but sleeping time was a bit of a torture for me. And so were all the other activities set to please the almighty master–the almighty Clock. Indoctrination, some call it. Surely an unpleasant thing being forced into following the ticking master rather than giving in to the omnipresent whispers of the natural flow. Conditioning, some call it also. A kind of implementation of mutually oppressing cogs into a being of freedom–a child. A way to lose innocence, I remember I gathered that quite quickly. I also recall my actions that followed. The way I remember it, I rebelled early. And I was a fascinating rebel, I conclude today. I had the strength to dream. And I owed this strength to my ever-present smile. This smile I inherited from my grandfather, and it came to fruition even before I could walk. Each of my dreams was no common daydream at all, but a shared dream of all life that participated in it. Or at least so I intuited. For, how could one be in a state of dreaming, alone, yet embraced by most everything? A river. And a flow that takes with it everything that does not oppose, but without an effort travels. A magical current of sorts. In my heart, completely sacred. With such experiences of humanity, destiny offered me no other but a rebellious path. A mystical warrior. A crusader without a sword or a gold-crazed look dwelling within his spiritless eyes. A ferryman bringing the dead to the land of the living–with a peaceful touch and a stubborn attitude towards his only two goals: freedom, and the divine that hides most everywhere.

At this young, post-toddler age of mine I remember one scene. One amongst many scenes of my life’s first act, no doubt. A playroom. Children–angry, sad, confused, and bored. For hours away from their parental angels and gods; stigmatized so early. And noise. And the desire to get out of there, whispered to me by my genius. I recall an exit beyond the walls and shelves of oily toys and dead trees unbarked preserving childish tales. A light out of the darkness. A dark away from the electric suns. Standing in my way–two pillars, with too much fat tissue for their own health and well-being, that commanded me from above.

”You are not going nowhere, mister.”

Thus, my body had no choice but to comply, while my spirit dreamed myself away from this madness. It was the first time I felt this way. To resist, to fight; in peace and silence. It felt reassuringly good. Until a special kind of pain knocked on my inner gates. It was the sign of a disturbance of harmony. My body and my spirit were no longer singing the same song in unison. For the first time in my life they were divided. And I felt a pain, like a needle underneath my physical skin. It tried to tear me apart, and left me confused. Why would anyone build himself a world like this? What brute would forcibly awaken what eternally in spirals sleeps? Two siblings interwoven, now separate threads. An experience that was but a violent interruption of an eternal dream.

From this moment on, my life was never meant to be the same. The first layer of innocence was taken away and lost, and I was offered nothing in return.

III

The second act of the Educational Spectacle that I was unwillingly and, only by intuition, awarely an actor of, offered yet grander obstacles. It’s quite fascinating, you see, how we spend a greater deal of our early years in education, and yet our parents, our ought-to-be elders, and our peers pay very little attention as to its importance. This is particularly intriguing, for these are the formative years in which we develop so much and in such a significant manner. A child brought up believing that Henry Ford or Andrew Carnegie is a suitable role model will differ greatly from one taught of the values of Gandhi or Martin Luther King. A child singing ”God save the Queen” will never be quite the same as a child singing ”Empire is no more, and now both Lion and Wolf shall cease.” If you’re surprised or unfamiliar with the latter, be sure you’re not alone. I myself came to know it only by chance as it was introduced to me by my grandfather who held one Mr William Blake, the author of these words, in great an admiration. More such examples can and likely should be brought to your attention. For instance, I was taught very early that the world can be atomized, mechanized, and quantified. Naturally, nobody used quite such advanced words at that stage; nevertheless I was exposed to the worlds of numbers, measurements, distances, monetary and material values of physical objects. To me these objects indeed held many values, not one of which, however, was a material or a monetary one. The way I was exposed to such revelations was by means of imposition. I was also told that those things are Science, a thing mighty important to my teachers. Thus, at some point, I asked one of them about the value of love and wisdom. In response I was treated with a special sort of resentment.

”Scientist does not bother himself with things of such nature,” I was informed.

I thought it peculiar and strange, for a scientist may not bother himself with such things, but I certainly did. Not because I saw wisdom, or love, or any other beautiful thing that happens inside and between men to have a practical value–a price–a label with a currency of some sort, but because I did find these incorporeal and invisible things inherently meaningful and important. I did find them essential to my existence as a human being. Essentially essential, if you will. Those things, in their essence, were ultimately more important to me than, let’s say, a physical distance between two corporeal objects. Perhaps it’s because whether far or close to a beloved one, I felt, my love would remain the same. The only thing that could matter is whether we’re together or apart. I felt it of a far greater value that there is a feeling between two people that seems to participate in the mysterious unknown–a warm darkness where innocence is allowed and where one may feel womb-safe. A place that I came to call–and very much to my liking–the Mystery. Only later did it occur to me that the Mystery encompasses much more. That it expands across the whole Universe, whether interior or at large, and that it goes so deep, it does not only transcend the Universe, but indeed, sprouts from its very core or essence. This particular essence that has slept in her own embrace long before the Universe was born.

Naturally, when informed about my intuitive gatherings, teachers thought myself troubled, if not straight incompatible with the ways of modern, progressive education, either by my being a revolutionary chick in an egg or somewhat out of sane. My parents were called to school not just once, and although not as radically anti-intuitive as my educators, they certainly could not comprehend my ways of feeling this world. As a matter of fact, the only person who has understood me was my grandfather. And he was quite a giant of a person, in my childish eyes, at least. At one time, when spoken to about things of a deeply personal nature, with a certain enthusiasm that as a child I naturally possessed, for a moment or two he appeared to me somewhat different. Something different, in fact. His body, covered with black and white spots formed by beautiful, subtly curly lines. His entire skin, no longer pale pink and whitely yellow, but a harmonious mergence of black and white shapes. A spectacle of simplicity, infinitely complex in its unexplainable charm. The whole sight was even more peculiar, for I did not see him as I saw every other physical being, but rather as sort of a glimpse of another place, a different dimension or time where my grandfather was a far more beautiful creature.

”We are beautiful animals,” he used to say softly. ”We’ve just lost our way.”

And whenever I asked what way it was, he would reply promptly:

”A sacred way, my child. A sacred way…”

To my personal satisfaction, I understood. With my heart and soul, I grasped and held dear. And my rational mind slept silent. But being a child in many ways no different than others, and blessed with a great honesty at that, I naturally brought such revelations with me back to school. To say that my peers did not understand would be a grave understatement. As cruel as it was, they made me a laughing matter. Soon, loops of words of ridicule were invented, and I was seen as an even weirder creature than before. For you have to know, in order to understand me better, that they did not seem to perceive me as their peer, but rather as some odd kind of an animal that looked human, talked human, and moved human, but in its essence was not really human at all. In effect, I was treated like a being acceptable on the level of basic tolerance, but no further. It would be a lie to say that it did not hurt. But not because of the creature part of it. This I found not particularly offensive. All life is wonderful, and so is every creature. What did hurt was the disacceptance and the alienation that followed. I think that one does not take rejection with a happy heart, no matter who that one is. There is just something in our hearts that requires warmth. Warmth of human understanding, warmth of human heart, and love, and friendship, and shared vision and guiding dreams. Sadly, and to my too difficult to hide despair, in those formative years of mine, school offered me none of that. The only retreat of value that I was able to afford lay within the wooden interior of my grandfather’s house in the country. When I think about it now, it appears to me that if it was not for him, I would have likely been unable to preserve my way, unable to grow into the destined ”creature” of the Mystery’s dream I was always meant to become. Fast forward a decade and a half, I am pondering my peers’ reasons, and the realization that strikes me like a ray of sunshine is that within this civilized world–a theatre where actors are plenty, but humans are few–I, with my everlasting honesty and integrity, was indeed a creature of sorts to these young people who were raised in a counterintuitive way to mine.

IV

Dream…
Within a dream…
Dream.

Dream…
Within a dream…
Dream.

BLACK: The moon.
WHITE: And the sun.

BLACK: High tide.
WHITE: And low.

BLACK: Climb.
WHITE: And relaxation.

BLACK: Excitement!
WHITE: And release…

Liberty.

BOTH: How special everything becomes in the eye of the special one.

Liberty!

BOTH: How dreadful all things are in the eyes of extinguished ones.

Silence.
Mourning.

BOTH: Be alive, boy!

BLACK: The world secretly awaits…
WHITE: …those who walk the mystical path.

BOTH: Who tread as you do.

V

It was the year I was to begin the first year of secondary education when one unforgettable morning I awoke different. It was still my summer break, and I was staying at my grandfather’s house. I recall that upon the discovery of my overnight change my grandfather called my parents and requested, in a manner that effectively left them with little choice, that I was to be moved to a school in another area and signed up under a different name. Naturally, my parents opposed him.

”But everything is already set up. Everything is paid for. School starts in four weeks,” they argued. But in vain.

My grandfather was a stubborn man, and in this case he knew exactly what he was suggesting. For you have to be made aware that my changes, while certainly sudden, were in fact quite tremendous. Especially if to consider social reactions, which would have undoubtedly followed. It’s not every day that a young teenage boy goes to bed and wakes up with a different choice of body parts, intimately speaking. The biggest change occurred on the plane of the experience, however. A sudden lack of a penis (by this time I had already discovered its sexual side, tasting both the erotic dreams and some early, and probably clumsy, masturbation) made my life much more interesting. Come to think of it, I have no way of knowing how women feel about their breasts or vaginas, but to me, because of the gracefulness of comparison, no doubt, it was quite an experience. And, surprisingly, I was not shaken, but rather deeply curious. I soon discovered the pleasures flowing from caressing my clitoris; however, much more intriguing was the change sprouting from the discovery of a certain kind of motherliness that now rested in me. The womb. A wonder of sorts. In a matter of weeks I felt a different, if not deeper, connection with the Mother Earth. And, forgive me if I’m talking somewhat frivolously about those of things that society still tends to shun and stigmatize, but from the perspective of time it makes only perfect sense that I tell you about my metamorphosis with an utmost honesty. Lo! And what a truly splendid thing it is, to be this honest after so many years upon the face of the earth.

Now, if you don’t mind my going backward just a bit, I feel it pivotal to expand on the role my grandfather played in this affair. I am deeply convinced that if it were not for him, this unexpected period (that stretched itself to over a decade) of becoming a teenage girl overnight would not have turned into one of the decisive experiences of my life, but rather a potentially gruesome, if not traumatic, episode. I owe my grandfather the present soundness of my spirit and the peace of my mind. Without a shadow of a doubt.

VI

Why can’t we look beyond what can be seen?
Why can’t we touch the treasures of Old?
How wonderful to see what cannot be seen
With our eyes shut and the Mystery unfold’d.

VII

Life as a teenage girl differed mostly on the level of social relations and monthly pains. I was fast accepted as a tomboyish kind of a girl who had a funny way of expressing herself in a surprisingly manly manner. Another great difference came in the environment itself. School, this time, was different. Just as my grandfather requested, I was now attending a different public school, incidentally closer to his house in the country. The school was, by probably any standard, a village school. As it happened, the teachers were more tender and the pupils calmer. Things were happening in a slower pace, yet I seemed to be getting more out of my education. More knowledge, more fun. But not much of wisdom. And wisdom, at that point, was already at the top of my priority tree–something I had already grown very fond of. This element, mostly unfound in education, like the heart’s inner fire, I had to seek elsewhere.

I have already mentioned a certain difference related to my feeling about Mother Earth that came along with my gender-altering experience. With all the fields and woods surrounding my grandfather’s house, I began to feel more. Daily, songs of the wind conducted the orchestra of tree crowns. And, wonderfully spontaneous, yet full of harmony, solo testimonies were being given by the birds who, as my grandfather on certain occasions observed, were rhapsodizing life. Expressing their gratitude for all the gifts that they were surrounded by. All the life they were offered. All the experience and mystery in most every moment of their being.

By all means, this was a gracious time. Magic unfolded in the Mother’s touch. Infinite and eternal. At the time, I felt, I have found my home.

VIII

My grandfather passed away the autumn of my first year of University. One of the final advices he had offered me was:

”When Intelligence is taken as a privilege, it becomes a crown. Used with impunity, it’s but an anthropocentric whip.”

This he said in relation to my being heartbroken with the way the University I attended treated the things it taught. How it quantified, rationalized, conceptualized, flattened, divided, segregated, undignified, and–above all–put itself in the position of “the all and only knowing.” Painfully, and contrary to academia, I desired nothing more but to intuit and to feel the world in every way possible. To rhapsodize life not less passionately and masterfully than the birds and the trees surrounding my grandfather’s house rhapsodized their world. For is it a crime to imagine or to dream the sacred? Or to respect, honour, and above all–love–the Life itself?

My grandfather often reflected that the academic ways are echoes of religious conversions, so deeply rooted in the veins of the Old World’s culture at the time when Universities were first formed. I believe my grandfather saw them as the anthropocentric whip that he spoke to me about. Anthropocentric, as my grandfather explained, meaning: placing humankind in the centre of all things, in a manner superior to all other expressions of Life. Intelligence–our supposedly greatest gift–mistreated. My grandfather saw himself and all those alike as people who took intelligence with a greater respect and did often think that, just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. I believe there was no divisive line between privilege and responsibility in my grandfather’s heart and mind. One determined the other. One belonged to the other.

My grandfather’s wish was not to be buried, but to be given to the sea whose shores were about forty miles away from his house. My mother was very much against it, but I managed to form an alliance with my father, and together we persuaded her it’s only respectful to honour her father’s final wish.

He asked for conchas, drums, and chants in an unexisting language, which he himself had sometimes written in. Again, my mother was against it. Grandfather’s ideas were too far from the established ways. Too primitive, too natural, too free-spirited. Lacking the deafening sound of the Civilized Gong. Thus, to me, they were beautiful. Eventually, my grandfather was given to the sea, surrounded by floating flowers of colours of the rainbow. The moment his body touched the water, which, I conclude today, I observed solely alone, he was no longer just a human, but his body was now also made of black and white shapes–gentle like the shapes of a beautifully curvaceous woman or an exquisite stroke of an inspired brush. To my senses at least, for a moment, my grandfather existed on the plane both animal and human. These beautiful black and white shapes resembled the shapes of an orca. And little did I know at the time that these shapes were, for myself, the shapes of things to come.

IX

It’s been a month since my grandfather’s funeral, and I kept finding myself returning daily to the place of his marine burial. My feet, always naked, became familiar with the vernal sand of the beach–neither warm nor cold–quite neutral, adding to the melancholy of the situation and the season. My heart sang the song of sadness.

I kept staring into the waves. And the waves, just like an abyss, kept staring back. They offered a call, and when I looked at my hand, it was no longer just human. Exquisite black and white shapes were now part of the plumage of my skin. Every now and then, a dot of black was part of a white shape, and vice versa–a dot of white partook in a shape of black. I was but my grandfather, although not entirely. Not just yet.

I heard the call of the sea. I believe, I heard it the same way my grandfather had once heard it himself. I took a few steps and the frontier of a wave gently caressed my toes. I took a few more, now disappearing into the world of aquatic life. I was no longer human, my body was now that of an orca, and a new experience came rushing, erupting, like a tsunami tidal wave. All of a sudden, I felt my sense of individuality, my sense of ego, disappearing–dissolving. Now, my mind was sharing with other orcas that were swimming nearby, a new family I did not know I had. A family that has been awaiting me here since the day I was born. A family of unity, not of division. Of shared playful, supportive, and warm thoughts, not of constant struggle, or self-doubt, or disharmony. A family beyond slaves and taskmasters, the rich and the poor, the left and the right, the privileged and the underpaid, those who smile falsely on red carpets and those who seek comfortable slumber in their cardboard homes on rainy pavements…

I discovered a world of freedom. Of natural birth and death–both interwoven portions of Life. And the freedom of the harmony of Nature that has its own ways, neither just nor unjust. For the way of Life does not exist to be judged or applauded, but rather cherished in its infinite mystery, and accepted, as it comes, with all the astonishment it has to offer. To tune into this harmony has been my life’s secret purpose. A hidden purpose. A purpose unknown. But now, wholly found.

I am here.
Myself. Orca. Me.

I am everywhere.
My Self. Human. We.

About the Author

rainteller

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rainteller is a Polish-born, and after a long swim, Scotland-based writer of short fiction, sequential art, and poetry. He writes in his spare time, also running a small storytelling company, WhatMakesUsHuman.