Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What does the whale song mean?

I get this question all of the time and for some reason people think I might know the answer, just because I've listened for so long. Being basically distrustful of "experts" myself, I have a hesitancy to assume that role myself....especially given the mystery that surrounds the whales and their singing. Research scientists who have spent much more time than I studying whales don't have answers to the questions people ask me at events like Earth Day last weekend.

Psychologists like Dr. Arlette Alexander, who volunteers with The Whalesong Project, point out the tendency of humans to "project" their own conditioned view of the world, childhood family dynamics, etc. - onto the whales or anything else in their lives. She says if someone had a dysfunctional family relationship, for instance, they might think the whales sound like they are arguing. How can we step back from our own stress, trauma, conditioning, and listen to the song? There's a challenge in itself.

Scientists also warn us of the human tendency towards anthropomorphism. The dictionary says this is the "attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena." Dangerous territory indeed.

Some cultural and spiritual practitioners tell us that the whale songs are vibrational, intended to create healing energy for the planet. Are they projecting, or is there truth to this?

To me, it's all fun and interesting to think about. And in the spirit of playful speculation, I present a human interpreted, possibly (probably) anthropomorphised, translation of one verse of this year's song:

How long?
How long?
Must we sing this song?
Before the humans can hear?
That there's truth to the notion
That we must have healthy oceans
Or life on land could disappear
Yes, life on land could disappear

As reports continue to come in of glacial melting, rising CO2 levels in the atmoshpere, ocean pollution issues, air quality diminishing to dangerous levels in some parts of the world, lack of political will to address these problems - I ponder my song. Am I projecting my own fears? Or do we really need to do something rapidly to have a harmonious, healthy family here on the planet - for us and future for future generations? Can we preserve the beauty of this planet that has abundant potential and resources for us to enjoy, if we take care of her? These questions are almost as large for me as "what does the whale song mean?"

Aloha kakou,


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