In her spoken word, “If I Should Have a Daughter,” Sarah Kay so elegantly says, “Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it is sent away.”
Less than a month after returning from the golden state of California, I find myself reliving my timeless moment with the ocean. It was an instance in my life in which time stood still.
Nothing else seemed to matter; all that was important in life made sense for a split second.
When you connect with nature, something within you comes alive.
I think this is because you connect with deeper parts of yourself.
When I was five years old, my family and I went to Florida for vacation. Upon the setting of the sun, we ventured out to view the ocean, possibly to see a lighthouse, but more likely to breathe in the cool evening air dancing upon the face of the water. Instead, what we found was new life. We watched intently. A sea turtle was giving birth to her baby turtles, letting them scuttle to the shoreline, and return safely to her. Young and adventurous, full of innocence, yet she was letting them venture out, knowing they would come back. I will never forget that. Though I was as little as them, I understood the value of nature, of instinct, and of first steps.
Since then (eighteen years later), I hadn’t seen the ocean at night. Until recently.
The beach during the day is wonderful and all, but the beach at night is something else.
It’s enough to make one breathless.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That night in California, all too vivid even now, my Midwestern-born-ass begged my friend to go to the beach, to say my last goodbye.
I took off my sandals and held them in my hands, letting my feet touch the soothing sand, allowing it to fit perfectly between my toes. Upon impact, I sunk, letting it take me below.
I walked closer to the shoreline as eternity made me fall back, causing me to catch my breath. I stood there, powerless, shivering in the brisk evening air.
Stars upon the canvas of the black sky, moon looming bright – the only light for miles.
The white crests of the waves arched as they boldly approached the shore. I lost my footing as the water rushed towards me, splashing my legs. Silence stole me away
All I could hear was the crashing waves billowing rhythmically. The only speck of civilization were the city lights in the distance
I’m quite convinced God gave me those perfect waves that night.
I felt alive.
I felt free.
Moments like these are gems, diamonds in the rough. These are the things that the ocean reminded me to pay attention to in life:
There are a few times in our lives that we will look back upon, and remember that in that exact moment, we were confident, independent, and utterly lacking of inhibitions. The reason is because we were surrounded by all-encompassing, reckless and bold, beauty.
Those waves could have brought destruction, but they simply dissipated as they reached the shore, creating designs in the sand, leaving white foam as a reminder they were there. Similarly, power is more delicate than we think. It is said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But I think, if used correctly, gently, power can bring about radical change.
Weakness in humanity.
I felt incredibly small standing by the ocean. It taught me that weakness is okay. That the only way to heal is to embrace one’s brokenness.
It’s okay to be human. It’s perfectly normal to feel and sense an array of emotions. To live with questions makes you all the more lovable.
What is faith if we do not doubt? There will be days when feelings of insufficiency arise, but always remember: you are enough. One of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke, once said, “Be patient towards all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”
The only thing consistent in life is inconsistency. The ocean ebbs and flows, and I believe life follows suite. Though the world may try to bend and break you, you must know by now that life is full of seasons, some more tolerable than others. Enjoy the blissful moments life throws at you.
And just as the waves continue to kiss the shoreline and the baby sea turtles return to their mother, know that this is merely a season, that you will look back on this and smile. Someday. That day may not be today, but that’s okay. Cling to the moments of certainty, and hold your breath for the others. For seasons of heartbreak and war, new life and exhilaration. Life will come and go, good and bad, so surf the treacherous wake of this thing called life.
As tacky and cliché as it sounds, love well. It’s what keeps the world in rotation, I’m quite sure of it.