“In the end, only three things matter: How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how graciously you let go of the things not meant for you.”
~ Jack Kornfield
Once there swam a majestic blue whale. She was rare in scope and song and she sang every day into the blackness of the sea calling and calling for her pod.
Her songs were light and joyous and clear and she dreamed her joy would bring her a family with whom she could sing for all the days of her life.
One morning she woke at the surface of the sea and found that a great, white albatross had taken roost upon her back.
“I hope you don’t mind,” said he. “I was tired and lost and your song was so sweet, I decided to rest here with you.”
The whale was surprised but flattered by the compliment and glad of the company, so she agreed to let the great bird stay with her for a time.
Morning turned to night and together they observed the sky change from orange to deep black. The whale had never seen the sky through its phases and had surely never seen the stars. She sighed and gasped and her eyes grew wide as dinner plates.
The albatross told her everything he knew about the wind and the clouds and the sky. He told her stories of faraway mountains, of trees and sand dunes and of creatures of the land. He drew shapes for her in the stars.
In return, the whale sang him songs of the vastness of the ocean, the darkness and the depth, of all the spindly, toothy and globby sea creatures and of her hollow longing to find her pod.
Night lifted to morning and as the sun pushed over the divide, the whale found herself afraid that the great bird was going to leave her soon.
“Where will you go?” she asked.
“Home.” He replied.
“Where is home?” She asked.
“I don’t know.” He replied.
“What if home was here with me?” She asked after a time.
“No.” Said the albatross. “You must swim and I must fly.”
The whale grew silent and the great bird bowed his head to her skin.
“Will you remember me?” Asked the whale.
“How could I forget the songs that reveal all that lies beneath the surface of the sea? A world that I would never have known, you have made plain and beautiful to my mind. I can never forget that. Will you remember me?”
The whale drifted in silence for a time. When she spoke, she spoke slowly. “I have been swimming and singing for many years. All of these years I have been alone, but I have never been lonely. After listening to your stories and singing my songs to you, for the first time in my many years, I know that when you go away, I will know what it is to be lonely and I will miss you greatly. It is impossible to forget someone when that someone is missed so dearly.”
“I will miss you too.” Said the great bird.
They floated together in silence for a while, warming themselves in the sun. As it set on the third day, the great bird stood and stretched his wings wide.
“Thank you, Whale Heart. You have made this world more beautiful to me than I knew it possible and I am grateful.”
As he lifted himself on a warm updraft to sail towards the horizon, the whale dipped slowly to the sea floor and, for the first time in her life she sang a song of loss.
It was the most beautiful song he had ever heard.