i believe in giants: part 1

by tobias crabtree


i’ve always loved a well-spun yarn. i’m addicted to garrison keiller’s voice as he carries on and on…and on, making things up as he goes along. i listen to the amazing people who tell their stories on The Moth radio show. when i was a kid i would have rather listened to a well told story than watch television (i still lean in this direction).

of course i had favorites. the poem hiawatha came alive inside my head. i passionately read Tarzan as if it was a self-help book; i was born to live accordingly. i cried about King Kong. i cried about Old Yeller. some might call my imagination overactive; i would call it just-what-the-doctor-ordered.

the story i remember from when i was really young, and still love today, is Jack and the Beanstalk. i love it for a number of reasons the first of which is that he created a new universe by tossing those magic beans into the dirt outside his window. oh man, a vine that grew into the clouds! let me at it! a giant? new lands? it just doesn’t get any better than this. i wanted to believe…hell, i want to believe. i really haven’t changed that much when it comes to this kind of thing. i still look for the hidden caves, the headwaters of some mountain stream, the lost possessions at the bottom of the bay, an old note in the pages of a used book from Green Apple. all this stems from my willingness to believe in things fantastic.

whale tail

this world is a closet of mysteries. last year i stood on a bridge over the Klamath River in northern california and stared down into the perfectly blue water. a mama gray whale and her calf had swum up from the ocean, miles away.  she stayed for 53 days swimming back and forth, day and night. people stared. natives told stories. biologists studied. in the end, the calf was weened and swam away from the dying mother. she beached herself in the evening and died in the morning. only she knew why she did this. after looking down at her for only a few minutes i felt like that giant swimming soul knew what she was doing and we should give her some privacy. it made the news when she died and, of course there were opinions. i felt a tugging in my heart…are we missing the point here? maybe sometimes we won’t understand and that’ll be ok. we don’t need to be scientists every second of every day.

whales will pull at you like this. they are giants. they have a look in their eye that hints at something waaay bigger. they sing with their enormous tongues about the depths of the world, about the distance. they migrate, miraculously, through the darkest of seas. they are ponderous; their souls’…immense. here is where the 8 year old tobias comes to me. they are real! these giants are among us and they know things we don’t know. we navigate with our GPS and our smart phone to find addresses on a grid. they navigate by the stars and the pull of the poles into the place in the middle of the ocean where they will find a mate. we are lost in our cities (i get lost at target). they are not lost in the ocean. that is crazy! i think it’s ok to not understand sometimes. i think it’s ok to be lost in absolute wonder. that glowing source of life at our center is connected to the grandest mysteries of them all.  maybe the next chance you get, turn everything off, walk down to the sea or maybe out among the redwoods, and listen to the hum of the universe. it’s there…it is.

the beast