Big Deep - An Ocean Podcast

A Mermaid's Tale: Linden Wolbert on living her life as a siren of the sea

December 10, 2019 Hosts Jason Elias and Paul Kelway Season 1 Episode 10
Big Deep - An Ocean Podcast
A Mermaid's Tale: Linden Wolbert on living her life as a siren of the sea
Chapters
Big Deep - An Ocean Podcast
A Mermaid's Tale: Linden Wolbert on living her life as a siren of the sea
Dec 10, 2019 Season 1 Episode 10
Hosts Jason Elias and Paul Kelway

A Mermaid's Tale: Linden Wolbert on living her life as a siren of the sea

Show Notes Transcript

A Mermaid's Tale: Linden Wolbert on living her life as a siren of the sea

Hosts:

Hi and welcome to the big deep podcast. Big Deep is a podcast about people who have a connection to the ocean, people for whom that connection is so strong, it defined some aspect of their life. Over the course of the series, we'll talk to all sorts of people. Then in each episode we'll explore the deeper meaning of that connection. In this episode we'll speak with a woman who finds the ocean, a place full of magical creatures and maybe a way you might not expect. Hello, this is Paul Kelway and I'm Jason Elias. Welcome to the big deep podcast.

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The history of the oceans is replete with sailors speaking of magical creatures, but these days they looked on as mythical, something that never really existed. In our next interview, however, we talked with someone who has set out to prove that that might not be correct.

Jason Elias:

I had been friends with Linden for years and recently she had performed at my friend Laura's house for her daughter Pearl's birthday party. That had in turn inspired me to reach out to Linden and see if she was willing to sit down and chat about her unique career. Not long afterwards. She invited me up to her home in the Hills above Los Angeles and we sat down next to a small waterfall outside the home that she calls the grotto.

Linden Wolbert:

My name is Linden Wilbert and I am a professional mermaid and ocean edutainer.

Jason Elias:

a unique job in this world. No doubt about that. What does that mean? Professional mermaid?

Linden Wolbert:

What a professional mermaid is, I do a lot of different things anywhere from performing at events to educate kids about the oceans. But I also do a lot of education through the format of video, so I have a YouTube channel that has over 40 million views and I enjoy very much anything that encourages people to learn about experience and conserve our oceans. I also created a line of children's mermaid inspired swim products. I've always felt a connection to water and the comfort level that I feel in the water is something that is almost indescribable. Using the term mermaid or the title mermaid is a really accurate way of describing that connection that I feel to the water.

Jason Elias:

Everyone finds their own way in this world. And very infrequently do people have the kind of insight or courage to actually pursue something that is far outside the norms of what most people do. What do you have found something that is like on the edge. So am I going to , are you crazy?

Linden Wolbert:

It's funny. I , I've been asked this before Lyndon , are you crazy? Do you think you're crazy? Whenever I imagined a career, I just thought I'm going to capture the world of nature and share that and I never thought it would be through the vessel of a mermaid that did not occur to me until I was in my twenties until it happened one day in the Caribbean. And I was in the water a nd there, there was this brilliant moment of clarity.

Jason Elias:

I'm going to actually go back and I want to hear about that moment. But , I think one of the things that I was just thinking about while you were saying this, is that I think it takes a lot of courage to not only find what it is that motivates you and what's true for you are, but then to actually do it and do it in something that not everyone's going to understand.

Linden Wolbert:

Yeah. I mean, I'm really going deep into the idea of creating a career for which there was no business model. You have to be passionate about something you love in order to make it blossom and grow and succeed. So that's how I feel about my career. I'd walk into a party, this happens anytime I go to an event and everyone always introduces me, Oh, this is my friend, the mermaid. And people kind of were like, Oh, okay. So you're , what are you a swimmer? You know, what does , what do you mean she's a mermaid? Oh, you're serious. I feel great passion because there's depth to what I do. It matters. There's something important that I'm doing, their messages I'm sharing with the world that need to be heard. So being able to express that and have now in my life, people actually take it seriously. I'm so grateful that I do have that tenacity. I think it's faith in the fact that there's a place in the world for anything you can dream of and creating that space. Sometimes you have to carve it out yourself.

Jason Elias:

Well, actually now that takes us on to something else that I want to talk to you about. You mentioned earlier that there was a moment in the Caribbean where you like...Being a mermaid. Walk me through how that happened or just tell me a little bit about that.

Linden Wolbert:

So the moment where I first felt like a mermaid is when I was filming a documentary. I was being an underwater camera person for a documentary and this was in grand Cayman and I had just learned about the sport of free diving. World champion free divers are diving into the deep abyss further than we could see them from the surface, even in very Clear water and disappearing for minutes at a time and then resurfacing. And I saw these mono fins and I was watching for days these beautiful movements these free divers were making in these fins. Mandy Ray Cruickshank-Crock, who hosted this free diving competition was wearing a monofin and happened to share my shoe size. I asked her if I could try that and she said yes. I remember sitting on the swim step in the boat and putting this thing on my feet and slip into the water and I put my arms in front of me and I start kicking. And at first I'm figuring out the feeling of it and then I just, I got it. And I started flying through the water. Just the energy coursing through my body as I'm jetting through the water. It was awesome. And when I surfaced I thought, Oh my gosh, I'm a mermaid. I just became a mermaid. It was at that moment that I knew I had to get one of these Fins. I needed to create a mermaid tail and maybe just maybe, this is a vessel for education in a new way and there it was.

Jason Elias:

Okay, so that talks about your sense of being a mermaid. Let's take a step deeper and talk about, I feel like it's not respectful and say you play a mermaid. I don't think that that's what it actually means. I think it's, it's a , it's an aspect of who you are.

Linden Wolbert:

I mean, the idea of me being a mermaid, I'm challenged about it all the time. Every time I go and I do an event with children, mainly children around age seven to nine, that's when they stop believing in things like Santa Claus, Easter bunny, mermaids, unicorns. I always have one or two kids and that will challenge me and say, you're not a real mermaid, are you? And the truth of it is, I don't think I'm an actual mermaid, but gosh, I do relate to it. I want to be a real mermaid to that little girl, that little boy to those people who think maybe there's a chance. I want to be convincing. I created this prosthetic tale that looks pretty darn realistic. It fits just like a glove. I learned to hold my breath for over five minutes and I can dive over a hundred feet down on a single breath of air and back in the sea. It's almost more a spiritual level. I don't actually believe I'm a mermaid, but I am as close as it gets. I've worked so hard to create that illusion to create that magic and that fantasy for namely for children. Why I do what I do is for children and nobody else.

Jason Elias:

You know when when someone would say, Oh, I don't actually believe in mermaids, i might say, but what is a mermaid? If you want to go off the unspoken assumption that we all have, that a mermaid is this mythical creature that sat on rocks and Combs her hair. But what if being a mermaid is actually believing in the magic of being in the ocean of actually dedicating your life to helping not just children, but adults understand that the connection to being in the water. What if it's less about your physical form and more about who you are as a person? So you were at I guess Pearl's birthday party. I went over to dinner at Lara's house and Pearl was there and she said, you, I heard, you know, mermaid Linden . And I said, I do. And she said , Oh, it was so awesome that she was here. I was like, yeah, I heard that was really fun. So Lara and my wife's are chatting and Pearl and I went outside to go play. And then Pearl pulled me aside and said, so I gotta ask you something. I believe mermaid Linden was real, but is she real? And I said, what do you think? She said , I think she is. And I said, I think she is too.

Linden Wolbert:

I could cry . Oh. Um , that's why I do what I do. That's a huge part of why I do what I do. Seeing children smile and truly experience wonder. There's nothing more fulfilling than a child having complete belief in magic. We do a lot of wishes for Make-A-Wish and children's charities around the world. Those are the most memorable moments of my life. Working with children who really need happiness in their lives and to forget the hospital. And forget the injections and forget the transfusions and there they are with this magical creature who is there only for them.

Jason Elias:

One of the things that I mentioned in our pre-interview was how you find there is some sort of mystery and magic and power in the water. You entered the water originally as a person and you came out as magical creature yourself in a way that like, it's almost like you are transmuted. Like do you see any parallels there about your sense of connection to the feeling of the world being this magical place and then you inhabiting this character you...that you actually... That kind of connecting, opening you to your sense of magic in the world and then that kind of manifesting as a magical creature yourself?

Linden Wolbert:

You bring up a really intriguing perspective that I haven't contemplated. I entered the water as a human and I come out as a mermaid. If I'm really just open minded about this whole concept, digging deep inside and why do I do this? Why am I doing this? First of all, it makes me happy and it makes other people happy. Maybe I didn't choose the career. Maybe it chose me. Maybe the ocean claimed me as it's herald. Maybe I'm just one lucky little instrument to sing the song of the sea in a way that resonates with humans so that maybe they will go experience it. Maybe they will donate to a cause that helps preserve our coral reefs, which are dying. Maybe someone will stop using plastic bags and use only canvas bags. Maybe in some little strange way, putting on silicone appendage, claiming that I'm a mermaid, even though my heart, I really feel like one in many ways, maybe this is what I am absolutely meant to do.

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Finally, we often end our interviews by asking our guests a single open ended question. What does the ocean mean to you?

Linden Wolbert:

Your three words to me, the ocean is magic, beauty and mystery. All in one beautiful aquatic world that I wish I could be in all the time?

Jason Elias:

Well, you're doing your best to do that.

Hosts:

Thank you for listening to the big deep podcast next time on big deep , "I was a commercial nuclear diver and this dive that was so life changing was swimming in the spent fuel core water and what they call the refueling pool." We really appreciate you being with us on this journey to the big as we explore an ocean of stories. If you like what you're doing, please make sure to subscribe, like and comment on our show in iTunes, overcast, SoundCloud or wherever you catch your podcasts. But those subscribes and links really make a difference. The more info on our guests, extra audio and photos as well as updates on anything you've heard, you can find a lot more content at our website, big deep.com plus, if you know someone you think we should talk to, just let us know at the big deep website is we are always looking to hear more stories from interest in people who are deeply connected to our worlds oceans. Thanks again for joining us.