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Ancestral Cheer Squad

The beach is my happy place. I feel safest when I’m walking along the shore, breathing deeply and listening to the rhythm of the waves. I feel connected to the cool water swirling around my toes as it reminds me of what I’m mostly made of.

Today my walk was extra joyful as I was fortunate to witness a newly hatched sea turtle make its arduous way into the ocean!

I walk the Canaveral National Seashore, which has been recording sea turtle nesting since 1985. From April through October I often see nests marked by stakes and brightly colored tape and occasionally I can spot the mother’s tracks from and to the ocean.

This morning, I was walking near the water’s edge to cool off when I spotted several people clustered around something on the ground. As I neared, I saw the baby sea turtle arduously scooting its way towards the sea. We’re advised not to interfere with it, as this trek is part of their development. (In fact, the experts tell us we should give it a very wide area to move through, but this morning’s crowd had obviously not heard that advice.) Each time the turtle would pause to rest the people surrounding it would cheer it along, “You can do it!” “Keep going!”

I looked around for the nearest marked nest and realized this creature – the size of the palm of my hand – had crawled nearly 20 feet, overcoming beach debris, soft sand, large human footprints, predators (crabs and birds)! This turtle’s cheer squad grew louder as the surf came closer and we all encouraged it to “Swim, swim, swim!” once the water reached it.

For the rest of my walk I practically floated along from the afterglow of that incredible experience and then I sat on the sand and reflected. I recalled a conversation I had with a friend who shared with me her discovery about her ancestors. “They just want to love me and point me in the right direction,” she said. Just like the sea turtle’s cheer squad, I thought.

What if my ancestors are around me all the time, cheering me through my own obstacles as I painfully make my way to the ocean? What if all of our ancestors are doing that?

“You can do it!”

“Keep going!”

“Swim, swim, swim!”


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