Where a Seal Comes To Die



On a rock, bathed in the mild morning sun, a lonely seal lay sprawled. It appeared quite unafraid. By its emaciated appearance and general weakness I could tell that there was something wrong with it. Its nose flanks softly moved gently as it breathed the cool morning air. And then I understood. It was just another lost and forgotten spirit of the ocean which had finally come to land in order to die.


In its big soft eyes I recognized the look. It is the look that all creatures have when they come to the appointed time to say good bye to the world. And then I was reminded of what Jack London once wrote in his epic classic novel, White Fang:  “He had no conscious knowledge of death, but like every animal of the Wild, he possessed the instinct of death.” He knew. We both did.


For a long time we stared at each other. “What does a seal understand about dying?” I wondered.  When I walked home again, hours later, it was still there. Weakly struggling to get away from the cold incoming tide. He still looked so young. I don’t think he feared death, though. And neither do I. It is just that if the moment had to come today, the timing would be so dreadfully inconvenient. Our eyes met for one last time, and then I walked by, leaving only footprints that were swiftly washed away as if they had never existed. It is the same for all of us.


I still think about that seal. And I’d like to think that when it finally went the way of the world, it was on a warm rock, and not in the cold sea. It seems fitting that way. That’s how I would have wanted it myself.