Many of my strongest childhood memories take place in the ocean:
- As a very young child, I begged my parents to “take me in” so I could face the waves because it was boring to play at the foamy edge of the shore.
- At seven or eight, I spent hours with my friend Joanie, jumping and diving and riding the waves, having to be dragged out for lunch and then again at the end of the day.
- When I was ten, an old man burst forth from his beach chair to help my sand-covered, gasping-for-breath self reorient after a rogue wave had tossed and turned and thrown me to shore.
- At thirteen, my newly mature woman’s body stood all the way up after body surfing and my friend informed me that I’d lost my bikini top.
There are lots more moments, but I won’t bore you. The point is that as a child, I loved the ocean: its wildness, its unpredictability, its power.
When I moved to the Massachusetts coastline in 1995, my love did not die but my perspective shifted, changing the nature of our relationship.
In the past, I only saw the sea during warm weather. Now, with it at a mile’s distance from my home, I see it almost every day, whether it’s snowing and bitter cold or chilly and muddy or hot and humid during our short 2-3 month blast of summer.
Instead of the thrill I associated with the ocean when I was a child, now it is something much bigger to me. I’ve seen it beast-like and blustery during storms and calm and flat on sunny, dry days. While I used to mostly go into the ocean, now I spend a lot of time observing it from a short distance, whether on a boat or in a car or from the beach during a Spring or Fall walk with my dog.
My favorite time at the beach, though, is the wintertime, on a milder day, when I can sit on a rock a few feet away from the water and take it all in: the salty smell, the rhythm of the waves, the vastness of its body. No matter what my mood is, if I allow myself the luxury of sitting alone by the ocean, my entire being fills with joy.
There are many things in nature that have an awesome power over my state of being, but the ocean is the one to which I’ve always felt a deep, enduring connection. Knowing this, I’m trying more and more to go to the beach when nobody else is there and to sit and breathe and feel the contentment. (Although this winter with 7 feet of snow and single digit temperatures, it has been more difficult than I’d like it to be.)
I’ve never thought to ask my local friends about whether the ocean has the same effect on them that it has on me. Or if their deepest source of inspiration and sustenance comes from the mountains or the forest or something else?
So tell me . . . is there something that sustains you the way the ocean does for me? Do you give yourself permission to take time to be quiet and let nature inspire you?
I'd love to hear what you think. Share in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
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