Up Close With the Sea Lions

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Our visit to San Diego was ‘beachy’. For desert dwellers, this was a real treat, Alhamdulillah! I had pinpointed La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool as I was researching places to visit in San Diego. I know most people would associate Sea World and Lego Land upon reading or hearing San Diego, but I wanted something less commercial and as close to nature as we could get, so I went high and low in search of these kind of experiences while researching. I want the kids to appreciate nature and connect with these signs of Allah and learn to reflect on them. I myself love nature, and even though I grew up enjoying theme parks and more commercial tourist attractions, I want my children to develop and love for and appreciate the more natural things and find joy in them, joy that surpasses the delight any man-made amusements can provide. We are already being distanced from nature. We don’t even know where our food on the table comes from. This is more reason to acquaint our future generation with as much nature as we can.

The ocean is a fascinating creation of Allah. I can’t reflect enough on it subhanallah. In light of the missing MH370, I thought of how the ocean can be a sign for reflection, deep reflections at that, excuse the unintended pun. It is said that we know more about Mars than we do about our own oceans. Why is that?

Because our oceans can be so deep, so deep, that we don’t even have the technology yet to penetrate those layers upon layers of darknesses that Allah mentions in the Quran. The deepest part of the ocean that was mapped so far, as far as I know (and I’m not an ocean expert) is the Marietta Trench in the Pacific Ocean. We have a long way to go in terms of ocean exploration. Scientists are saying that we need to learn more about our oceans because it is the key to the survival and thriving of our planet earth.

Subhanallah, I mulled over this for days. Several things came to mind. One of them is the incident where Khidr and Musa a.s. was in the boat, and a bird perched on the edge of the boat and dipped its beak in the sea. The amount of water that wet its beak is like our knowledge and the ocean is like Allah’s knowledge. Another thing that occurred to me is how water in the Quran is always associated with knowledge, with khayr, good. Subhanallah, our oceans are so deep and vastly unexplored. Its well being is essential for the well being of our planet, and thus our lives. The knowledge of the deen is vast, it’s there, and grasping and embracing it, is essential for our spiritual and physical and emotional well being, and thus the well being of this planet also.

Space exploration is thriving because as the scientists say, they don’t have to deal with the layers of darknesses that impede extensive exploration of the ocean. We Muslims, study so many subjects and specialize in them and pursue them so devoutly and excel in them, sometimes, at the expense of exploring our ‘oceans’, that is , the Islamic knowledge that is so deep and vast and essential for our well being and for spreading khayr across the globe.

The ocean is scary. Its depth is scary. You can drown in it even if you know how to swim. Islamic knowledge is valuable, but it doesn’t stand alone. There are other factors that are needed, such as wisdom, ettiquettes that should accompany knowledge. Otherwise, knowledge alone may lead one to utter destruction and even spread destruction and corruption in a society.

It was a challenge finding a parking spot at La Jolla Cove, so hubs dropped us off here. When I spotted the sea lions, a multitude of them lounging on those rocks, I thought to myself, this must surely be the Children’s Pool! I happily told hubs,

“See you at the Children’s Pool,” and went off with the kids to this tourist-laden spot. We had to descend through a small gate and from there on, you have to watch your step, and deal with a stench that can make you gag. If it were not for the sea lions, I would have turned back up the gate, but seeing how close people could get to the sea lions moved us forward despite the smell, which I assumed was the feces and wastes of the sea animals when this rocks were underwater at high tide. You could even see the little brown pools of water on the rocks. Don’t make the mistake of stepping in them.

1413 The sea lions were aplenty, and a-noisy. They pretty much stayed put where they were and they were not aggressive either. Some were in the water and some jumped into the water. They were busy enjoying the late evening sun.

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Speaking of aggression however, make sure to not get too close to them. Hz was too engrossed taking videos and photos, that he didn’t realize he was about to come to close to a lone golden-skinned sea lion. I didn’t see it happening, but apparently, he was trying to see if there were anymore sea lions below the rocks and almost ran over this sea lion who was sitting so regally by itself on the spot, away from other sea lions. Hz also didn’t see him because his skin color blended well with the rocks! It was a beautiful sea lion though subhanallah!

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We waited for hubs to join us at my ‘Children’s Pool’ but he never came. We also stayed at this spot for a while as we couldn’t get over the fact that we were so close to the sea lions! Eventually, we had to leave it to look for hubs. We went up back through the gate and around, and descended down the stairs towards the La Jolla Cove.

It’s a secluded beach to the left of the sea lions’ perch. Its waters are actually scuba divers’ paradise as it’s an underwater park, with underwater canyons and rich sea life. The beach slopes steeply downwards, unlike the gentle slopes at La Jolla Shores. You can even see this sharp decline by the way the waves hits and slaps the shores.

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We came at low tide, so to the left of this beach, there was a narrow passage of slippery rocks that takes you to the other side. I do wonder though if the sea lions’ perch are completely submerged at high tide, because this beach doesn’t seem to allow for too high of a tide. Maybe those rocks are not completely submerged, but the waves travel quite a bit onto them so as to leave those pockets of waste pools on some lateral crevices.

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I learned, when we finally found hubs, that the Children’s Pool was further down the length of the coast. On the way there, we passed by this stretch of the beach that had cacti growing on it! California is still a desert, albeit a coastal one! Amazing subhanallah!

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The view was just zhikr-inducing!

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The beauty we see around us, as beautiful and breathtaking as they are, have hidden dangers that can completely subdue us, and I mean really subdue us to extermination. When I think of Jannah, I think of all this beauty, that is of course magnified, without these dangers and little annoyances. You spend a day at the beach. Sand gets in between your toes, and even in your food, with aid from the ocean breeze. As much fun as you are having, at the end of the day, or as the tide rises, you have to eventually leave and end that fun. In Jannah, there is no such thing. You don’t have to worry about a thing!

That gives us balance in our approach to having enjoyment and fun in this worldly life. No matter how much you are enjoying yourself now, remember that there is always an end to it, and remember that this is only a pit stop. We have an ultimate destination to keep heading towards, and whenever we feel overcome by the fun in this world, it helps to remember that it’s not worth it to sacrifice the uninterrupted and eternal joy in the hereafter for what may seem like true enjoyment of life. The biting cold wind, natural disasters, unfavorable weather, occasional dangers from wildlife, accidents, are in a way, merciful reminders sent to us by Allah, to remind us that the fun here is limited. Wake up and remember the akhirah. You’re not staying here forever. Come on, get up, let’s go. That’s enough fun for now. Moderation is the key. Subhanallah…Alhamdulillah! Allahu Akbar!

1461Now, this above, is the sought-after Children’s Pool. I have to say though, that the motivation for me to want to visit it, was the sea lions. But after being on those rocky ledge, this Children’s Pool is nothing. Hubs and Hz wanted to go back to the hotel because they had a dip in the ocean and were cold. I wanted to see the sunset though, and we did end up waiting for it here.

There were a lot of sea birds flying above our heads, soaring gracefully with wing spans as long as hubs’s height maybe! Herons and seagulls grace the sky as they look for their livelihood. Looking at them soar reminds me of this ayah…

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67:19
Sahih International

Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed He is, of all things, Seeing. [Al Mulk 67:19]

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As we were waiting for the sun to sink below the horizon, we were blessed to witness yet another creation of Allah in all its glory; the hummingbird. What’s more, Hz and hubs filmed it and at one point, it even came to Hz’s’ camera!

 

People stopped to ooh and aah at this amazing creation, while I was utterly delighted at its beauty. Its feathers reminded me of this ayah, and it reminded me of velvet and suede, subhanallah!

7:26
Sahih International

O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember. [Al A3raaf 7:26]

The word Reesha literally also refers to feathers of birds, and so just like their feathers are beautiful and attracting, our clothes are also means of adornment for us. Birds without feathers are upsetting to look at, just as human nakedness can also be disturbing to look at (forget the concept of embracing the human body. Yes, it’s beautiful, but we weren’t made to walk around naked or almost naked! It’s beautiful in a private way).

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Subhanallah…the movement of the sun, in obedience to its Lord is an amazing sight to witness. It didn’t take long for the sun to set. If you weren’t paying attention, before you knew it, the sky has taken on a more golden and darker hue, and the sun has inched its way towards the horizon, and disappears below it before your very eyes. Alhamdulillah for our faculties, for our senses, for our intelligence, for our rizq. Truly, truly Allah is the Most Merciful and Most giving of His bounty!

 

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