Vivian and Edward, the Sea Lions


Two sea lions close enough to feel each other’s warmth, yet still a comfortable space between them. It was a little chilly in San Francisco when I took this picture. I had walked about 6 miles through the city, beginning my trek with warm sunshine, people on bikes speeding past, joggers chatting about upcoming marathons as they padded along, kids on skateboards creating a drum beat along the uneven concrete path. I was on a mission to reach Fisherman’s Wharf before the stores closed and the sun went down. No time to stop an enjoy the Embarcadero. I had to keep going or risk running out of time. As I got closer to my destination, the weather drastically changed. I had blinked my eyes to enjoy a reprieve from the sun, only to open them and find the sun had been replaced with a black and white movie version of the same cityscape. The wind gently lashing my hair around, letting me know that nothing is forever. Silly human, you should have kept your eyes open.

The fog that rolled in stole my last glance at the Golden Gate Bridge. It enshrouded the wharf with this creepy quality that made me feel like some strange apparition might come floating over the water. I picked up the pace, beginning to feel this fear creeping into my spine, a nervousness beginning to take hold. And just as I was about to let the fear win, I heard the familiar, playful barking of the Pier 39 sea lions. I quickly turned the corner and the sea lions were acting as they had the day before when it had been sunny…sleeping, playing, knocking each other around, swimming along the edges of the docks. They were oblivious to the change in weather. It hadn’t phased them at all.

Further away from this big group of sea lions slept Vivian and Edward. I was instantly enamored by them. I could feel their shared solitude. The noisiness of their peers, the tourists chattily snapping pictures, the loud wind pushing through the air, it all quieted and I was allowed into their quiet little bubble for a moment. I had the oddest feeling…I was jealous. I wanted to be them.  Simple, sleeping creatures, not needing to speak or think or worry. Merely needing the warmth and comfort of each other’s bodies.

Jealous of sea lions…that doesn’t even make sense, does it? I was though. I went from happily walking along a warm shoreline to stumbling into a cold, stark fog and I felt every part of that transition until I was chilled and feeling extremely alone. Yet through that transition, these two stayed constant, felt none of it. Only felt each other breathe and their warmth radiate. Passage of time wasn’t an issue. They weren’t worried about how to get back to their hotel before it got dark. Not worried they hadn’t remembered something important from the day or a phone call that needed to be made. No major decisions to think about. Plenty of food in their belly and just peaceful slumber with the one they love.

As humans, we think we have it all figured out. We are the smartest, we build great things, our brains are capable of complex thought, but I think we aren’t as smart as we think we are. Because as simple as life can be, as simple as it is to love, we complicate everything. I wonder if we are the failed experiment and god or the universe will eventually say, “Well, that was a nice try. These humans really mucked things up. Dinosaurs…too big. Humans…too smart. Send in the asteroids. Third times a charm.”




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