What does it all mean?
I had my recurring dream again last night. Haven’t had it for a while. I’ve been having it in various forms for most of my adult life. This is not one from childhood. In the dream – and, as I say, the set-up varies – I find myself at a dophinarium or zoo, and there are killer whales swimming round in a pool, usually two of them, and either I’m watching them from the side of the pool, or through glass, and there’s usually a danger of me falling in the water, or of the killer whales jumping out. In the version I had last night, the pool was glass-sided. I didn’t fall in. But I was filled with the same mixture of tension and pleasure I get from the possibility of being near whales, especially killer whales.
Some important facts that will help you interpret my dream, whether qualified to do so or not:
1. I love killer whales. I mean, I love them. The way they look. The way they move. The way they sound. I have been fascinated by whales – and not the more user-friendly dolphins – ever since my childhood. The Whale Hall at the Natural History Museum (these days called the Mammal Gallery, I think) blew my mind as a kid, on a trip down to London, and it has exerted an almost supernatural pull on my soul every time I’ve visited since. (Luckily, even though museums are all about interactivity and moving dinosaurs and “experiences” these days, they have failed to ruin the whales at the Natural History Museum – that amazing space is still dominated by the full-size blue whale, and you can listen to the mesmerising, almost heartbreaking sounds of different whales too. The killer whale noises are my favourite.) Whenever I catch a glimpse of a whale on television, the hairs on my neck stand up. I love all birds and animals, but no other animal has this effect on me. I was a proud member of the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society in the 80s (even though they care about dolphins the same amount they care about whales). I love killer whales so much, I couldn’t stop myself from visiting Marine World in Vallejo while on honeymoon in San Francisco, where two killer whales perform. (These days it’s called Six Flags Discovery World, by the way – I checked.) I had shivers down my spine just approaching the arena, and I sat by the viewing window and had a full-size killer whale swim right past me, just as one had done in my dreams so many times. It was unreal. Now, intellectually, I despise zoos, and I hate that two beautiful killer whales live in a swimming pool, but I was drawn to it, so that I could see my favourite creature in the black and white flesh. I feel guilty for giving them my money, and for having my photo taken with the whales. I’m conflicted about it, all these years later. I accept that most decent zoos are all about conservation and education now, but Marine World was all about entertainment, and that’s so wrong. Anyway, seeing two orcas in real life didn’t stop me having the dream.
2. I don’t like water. I can barely swim. I never cracked swimming as a kid. As such, I am afraid of the water. I don’t like being on it. I get seasick on boats and ferries. (Funnily enough, we went by boat to Vallejo from San Francisco, as it’s on the northern shore of San Pablo Bay.)
3. The dream is not a nightmare. I rarely actually fall in the water and I never think the whales will hurt me. They’re just so big. The thrill I get from seeing them on telly (and in real life that one time) is replicated in the dream. The best way to describe my feelings towards the whales is awe.
Why I dreamt about the killer whales again last night, I have no idea. In some ways, it’s great to have them back. Because I love them.