The ocean catches my eye from my window 22,000 feet in the air flying south from North Carolina. Even at this distance the ocean seems to call me, each wave draws me to its salty shores.
I feel most comfortable when I am near the ocean. My grandfather is a native of the Cayman Islands where the majority of my paternal family still lives. These small Caribbean Islands represent what I feel to be the most beautiful beaches and waters you can find. Clown fish crush the red, white and pink coral into beautiful sands and the crystal clear waters invite you to snorkel into a totally different world.
In Texas, where I grew up, we were never more than a couple of hours from the water. My grandfather owned a beach house on the waters of Crystal Beach. These waters, unlike those of my paternal grandfather’s home, were not tranquel. The sands were not pink and white and the shores were often littered with dying jelly fish, seaweed and tar slicks from the oil that naturally oozed out of the cracks, deep within the Gulf of Mexico.
The waters were so dirty that snorkeling was impossible. The waves seemed to give up as they approached you on the edge of the water, failing to make much of an impact on the sand. Wild life was limited to seagulls, jellyfish and the occasional crab.
It was still water.
In Hawaii where my family has a condo, the waters are clear, they are big and they are fun. The waves attack the sands of the beach with vigor providing ample energy for surfers and are able to strip beaches of their sands entirely. One of these beaches is called Mystery Sands, one day there is sand, the next rock and reef. What beauty and power, mystique and excitement. The wildlife here, like the Cayman Islands, is abundant.
If only there weren’t so many tourists!
When I moved to Missouri, living for the first time away from any major body of water, away from any ocean, sea or bay; I began to realize how much I loved and missed the ocean.
Then I moved to California, just thirty minutes from Bodega Bay, how wonderfully reminiscent.
Now, the waters were freezing and the mixture of the Russian River made some areas brown from the usual dark blue and the sands so hot you could barely stand to go barefoot for more than a few steps.
It was still water, beautiful, icy and crashing against the dark rocks of the Northern California shoreline.
Very rarely in our lives do we voluntarily put ourselves in control of mother nature and I can find no better example than the ocean. What other force do we find a sport to challenge with sports such as surfing, boating and skiing? In a world where we all seem to be grasping at any chance to take control, the ocean is our only escape.
We are forced to cover ourselves with lotion to protect from ultraviolet rays from the sun, we worry about rip tides pulling us far into the open water. There are sharks, there are Portuguese Man-of-wars, there are sea urchins. There are biting fish and probably the worst, those damn bunches of seaweed that seem to gravitate to your bare legs.
At every twist and turn, we put ourselves in harms way trusting the ocean will take care of us, and if it chooses otherwise, to whom are we to complain?
I think as humans we secretly crave to lose a bit of control, to put our lives in the hands of others, to not have to worry about what we do and instead relax and let nature be our guide. In world full of doubt, where everyone is trying to get the one-up on their neighbor and it seems nothing is certain; it is sure nice to have the ocean.
It is always there, it is always changing and yet it is always the same.