Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.


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Look Up and See the Whale

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Almost every day, unless I'm traveling, or on a more strenuous hike somewhere else, I walk my dog Ella on the boardwalk at Moonstone Beach, in my little town of Cambria.  Now and then I'll run into a local I know.  But, since Moonstone Beach Drive is lined with motels and inns, most of my fellow walkers are tourists.  Some walk hand in hand, enjoying the view.  Which is nice.  Many stop to take photos.  Also nice.  And others are on their cell phones, lost in the conversation, eyes trained toward their feet.  And this I find perplexing.

I have nothing against cell phones per se.  And I completely understand how easy it is to lose track of the moment.  I used to be every bit as guilty of doing so, and I still have to constantly remind myself to be where I am.  So I bring this up not as a criticism, but as a helpful suggestion.

Where are you now?  Now...are you really there?  Or is your body there and your mind somewhere else?  I know it's not easy.  Success comes seconds at a time, then gets lost again.  But what could be more important, more an essential element of life, than remembering to enjoy the beauty of what's right in front of us? 

So, to the tourist on your cell phone, here's a little photo essay on what you missed. What you might have seen if you had hung--and looked--up.  

You might have seen waves crashing.

And seals sunning.







A closer look at the rocks might have revealed sea stars and red crabs.



There are almost always surfers surfing.



And often there are otters swimming and wildflowers growing.



The brown pelicans fly overhead, and sometimes they surf, too.



But, I'm sure your phone call is important.  It's just that...I figure you saved up and probably looked forward to this trip for a while.  And it just seems a shame to miss it.  But if that's not enough to hang up for, well...that's all I've got.  Oh, wait.  One more incentive.  Sometimes pods of pilot whales (people mistake them for dolphins because they're small for whales) play very close to shore.  And often a spout or even a fluke can be seen between the shore and the horizon.  But it's up to you to set your own priorities.

Meanwhile it's a good reminder to me to hang up whatever thoughts I'm caught up with in my head.  I can think later.  

Those of you who read The Day I Killed James may remember the line about looking up and seeing the whale.  This post is just a reminder, to myself and others, to look up and see the whale.