| February 17, 2017 |
It is life, I think, to watch the water.
A man can learn so many things.
– Nicholas Sparks –
The ocean has always been therapeutic for me, and I wasn’t really sure why. I just loosely associated feelings of relaxation with the beach, as my family always vacationed to the Caribbean and my heart always seemed to pull me toward salty breezes. Living near the ocean in South Florida was incredible for many reasons, even though I sometimes felt disconnected from the power of the ocean. It sometimes disappointed me when it became more of a tourist destination. Fort Lauderdale beach flooded with college students on Spring Break, who ignorantly left their red SOLO cups on the sandy shore, unaware of their environmental impact. Yet, many nights, the ocean called me back. I found solace, peace, in the waves.
I will explore these emotions I associate with the ocean, while also sharing images from a day on the Oregon Coast in Seaside and Ecola State Park and times when I needed the ocean’s presence.
If we really start thinking about it, it makes sense that we are drawn to the ocean (and water in general) because we are the ocean. We came from a fluid-filled sac within our mothers, and now our bodies are made of about 65% water.
You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.
– Rumi –
The one thing I’ve most noticed with the ocean is that I can let things go. I feel the ocean and water always brings a sense of peace in my soul, even if it takes a little time when I get to the water’s edge. It makes me feel there’s something more. It’s a forever expanding and living creature, just as we are.
You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here.
– Alan Watts –
I bet it wouldn’t surprise you that, based on research referenced in the novel Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols,
“The highest increase in happiness in an outdoor environment occurred when people were near water. Being in marine and coastal regions added 5.2 percent to a person’s level of happiness.”
This is why people pay more money to live by the water, even if it means just having a view. There’s something so organic and healing about the water because we are the water.
The ocean is very much alive. In this episode of the TV series “Through the Wormhole,” Morgan Freeman tells us the ocean is a living organism itself (and who wouldn’t believe anything that man says?). It’s not just the marine animals, it’s the ocean that’s also alive, as it has its own metabolism and is biologically active.
Maybe this is why it makes us feel so ALIVE? Maybe this is why it carries so many healing properties?
We are being separated from this organic, natural environment. According to Blue Mind, “We have been separated from the very stimuli we were built over hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years to perceive: the richness of the natural world.” We are distracted by technology: TV, cell phones, and over-population distract us from the essential elements of life. I definitely feel this intense pull toward the natural world, and feel best when I’m outside whether it be near the ocean, a lake, a waterfall, or simply on a mountain top. To me, this has become my “real world.” Not the obsessive-compulsive world of social media, or the platonic relationships we form with others, or the inability to communicate effectively. When I am outside, I am connected to a higher power and to Mother Nature and all of her creations. We all need it.
How about this for a scary statistic? According to former Microsoft Research Fellow Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, in one day, you’ll:
“Check your phone 34 times, visit Facebook 5 times, sped at least half an hour liking things and messaging friends…for every hour you spend talking to someone [on the phone], you spend five hours surfing the Web, checking email, texting, tweeting, and social networking.”
And do you know what that all adds up to? 90 eight-hour days.
Yet, at the edge of the bustling society, is the water’s edge. The city stops at the edge of a peaceful place in many locations, with rivers, oceans, inlets, and lakes running through the chaotic society we live in.
Somewhere, we have to find that place to pause and disconnect.
What am I going to do? Keep going back to the ocean and mountains. I’m going to use the ocean to cleanse my spirit every so often because I need it.
Just recently, I was visiting a friend in Florida, and we went to the ocean at night in Jacksonville beach. I had been feeling disappointed, lonely, and a little lost. When we got to the edge of the ocean, I felt a huge power rising inside of me, but it had a terrible taste. As the waves crashed by my feet, I felt my past rushing toward me and subdued emotions coming back to life. I started feeling intensely sad, and was confused why the ocean was doing this to me. I thought I was going to be able to LET IT GO, not feel all this negativity MORE.
This kept happening, and I was feeling more intense feelings of regret and sadness.
Then… something shifted. The waves kept crashing and the tide reached toward my feet like hands. Little memories from my past were grabbing at my legs, but as the tide receded, I noticed that these emotions slowly started to also dissipate. A calmness started settling in. I realized I was letting go, and in a more powerful way than I had before. I met my emotions head-on, intensified them, and then was able to wave them goodbye with every wave that crashed and receded…
I don’t want to live my life distracted by technology or from my emotions. I want to feel everything I am wholly so I can later let it go.