I started out on my daily beach walk, the sun was brightly shining, the air was cool yet comfortable and I was alone with my thoughts and literally alone as there was not a human in sight. This is the kind of walk that fulfills me for days. I breathe in the salt air, count my blessings with each and every step and contemplate life. Pretty nice, huh?
In an instant everything changed. I came upon a small leatherback turtle that had beached itself. The poor turtle, was all I could think, then I looked around for help. This was one moment I wished for other walkers to present themselves, but again I was alone, one with nature literally and figuratively. Was she dead? Should i throw her back into the water, like a burial of sorts? Hmmm, Ok I got this, when upon tapping her shell I sensed an energy. She seemed as if she might still be alive, barely but hanging on. "Thank god" I said aloud and frantically started dialing 411 on my cell phone trying to reach the guard shack for the beach where the environmentalists were headquarted. This effort brought no result, as the 411 automated operator could not figure out my calling destination, so I decided to double time it back down the beach (about a mile and a half away) to personally alert them, with hopes that they would be able to save her. My steps quickened and I noticed how within a short time, my walk had completely changed, it went from relaxing to extremely stressful within minutes.
Upon reaching the guard shack, I frantically knocked on the door and overheard a loud radio playing in the background, and I was not sure that my knock had been heard so I decided to knock louder. All of a sudden, the door flung open and the young ranger stared at me. I was out of breath but full of hope as I finally reached someone who could help. I blurted out, "I'm so out of breath, I'm sorry, I thought I would never reach your office...." when she interrupted me and said, "can I help you" Nervously I replied, "well, yes, there's a stranded turtle on the beach right by the new ramp that was recently built about a mile down the beach, do you know where I'm talking about?" and she abruptly replied, "Umm, I'm about to go live on a radio interview right now" and began to close the door. She must have noticed my surprise (or disgust more likely) as she then said, "oh, and thank you" and closed the door. I stood there, shocked, sad and angry. Actually I started talking to myself outloud as I walked away..."Maybe you should go on the radio to talk about the poor stranded turtles that will not be saved because you have to go on the radio to talk about nonsense." "wouldn't it be better to cancel your stupid interview and do the job that you are paid to do?" and on and on went the banter in my head. Breathe I kept telling myself, breathe...then I decided to take action into my own hands once again. So I phoned 411 again in an attempt to reach IFAW (international fund for Animal welfare), they will help I thought, and when the automated calling system picked up they said press 1 to report a stranded or dead animal, "YES" finally! After pressing "1" a young girl listened to my story and replied, "sorry, we don't handle turtles, you may want to call the Welfleet Audubon Society" to which I replied, "Ok quick, give me their number". I began dialing and once again and yet another automated message played, this time I got to "Press 5" and I still had no direction of who to contact, as I did not want to donate money, visit their Welfleet sanctuary or get a dial by name directory.
That's it, I give up. The poor turtle may die and I'm the only one who cares. I have done all that I can and she may die but not because nobody cared. I cared! I spent the final minutes of my walk thinking about this experience and all of the feelings I had surrounding it. Sadness, grief, surprise, anger, frustration and disappointment. I was feeling exhausted actually. But, I realized, once again, that I can not control the actions of others. I am responsible for my actions and its as simple as that. Maybe the ranger will finish her radio interview within minutes and dash out in her four wheel drive and save that turtle, and then again, maybe not. I will never know. I do know I could spend my entire day angry and sad, or I can feel good about the fact I tried, as best I could, to make a difference. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. I finished my walk back where I started, with calm breath, the air was still beautifully comfortable, and I still felt gratitude for being able to walk the beach every morning. Tomorrow's a new day, and I will set out again to walk, with no expectations... By letting go of what we expect to happen and just letting things be what they are, we can always choose a happy ending.