It is no secret to anyone that knows me, even marginally well, that I love the ocean.
Not lakes — or rivers.
I am wonderfully fortunate to live within an hour’s drive of some of what I consider to be the most beautiful beaches on earth. I know myself well enough to know that I could never in a million years live in a landlocked state or country, for fear that part of my soul would die. And I mean that quite literally. My soul would die. I am like John F. Kennedy in that I am tied to the ocean somehow.
There is a catharsis when I am around salt water. My stress dissipates, my muscles relax, my senses come alive, and I can block everything else out. (If the ocean is just not your thing, I honestly hope you have some other kind of place you can go to put the world on pause for a little while and just be alone with your thoughts and the sounds around you.) It is where I go when I am craving solace and introspection. It is where I go when I feel like I need to creatively recharge. It is my escape and should I ever decide I want to run away from home, it would not be very difficult for those who love me to locate me. My personal GPS guides me there when I need it most. It is where I can just be. My husband knows (and expects) that there will be a day at the end of each summer or early autumn where I pack up and head off for the day — by myself. I bring my journal and a pen. I bring my camera. I bring my thoughts. And, I sit for a few hours, reliving all of the delicious summer memories and mourning the end of another season. I don’t want company on this trip — much the same way that people of certain faiths do not welcome company when they are in prayer. It’s tradition and it helps me transition for what I consider to be the beginning of my year (“my year” runs on the school calendar from September to June, and September is when I usually reevaluate and contemplate any change).
As I have been heading to the beach this summer, I have been seeking inspiration. What can my favorite place on earth teach me? What kind of inspiration can I glean from salt, sand, and seagulls? How can the place that I retreat to help me to be more present and more grounded in my everyday life? You would be surprised…
You see the ocean just IS. It doesn’t make apologies for what it is or what it does. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. And people love the ocean for that — because the ocean doesn’t pose as a mountain or a desert just to please. Day in and day out, it is simply the ocean and just being the ocean is simply enough. The ocean attracts people that love the ocean. I also want to just be me and have that quite simply be enough. To be a magnet for all kinds of people that love Jenn for Jenn. I can learn a lot from the ocean.
I love to watch the boats at sea. Boats have a destination in mind when they leave port. Boats have to adjust their sails when the wind changes or when the water unapologetically challenges them. Boats might get slightly off target when battling adverse conditions, but God willing, they usually arrive at their destination. I can learn a lot from boats; like adapting to changes and challenges — but always keeping that final destination in mind and never getting too far off course.
I love that the tides are committed. Each day, there are high tides and low tides. There is never, and I repeat NEVER, a half-assed or medium tide. Outside forces might influence the tides in small ways, but they never prevent the tides from coming. The tides know what they have to do and they do it. Tides are all in. I bet there has never been a tide in the history of tides that has doubted itself. There is also an ebb and flow to the tides; a give and take, a yin and yang. I could learn a few things from the tides.
Seagulls are probably my least favorite part of the beach, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from them as well. I liken the seagull to your Great Uncle Charlie. He will always be a part of your family celebration and he might have some redeeming qualities, but the lessons you learn from him will also revolve around things NOT to do. Uncle Charlie’s business acumen: admirable. His belching: not so much. Seagulls are opportunists and thiefs (file this under not so much). When they see an open door (AKA: a way to steal your lunch or a way to crack open that crab), they will always take it. There have also been quite a few resourceful and observant seagulls that have created an open door when one previously did not exist (file this under admirable). And, let’s also not forget that seagulls can soar! I love that — seeing opportunities and soaring! See – there is a lot to be learned from even the lowly seagull.
Sea glass. Sweet, precious sea glass. Sea glass possesses my absolute favorite lesson of all from the beach! If you think about it, sea glass is born all shiny and new, just like all of us. But, you toss that fresh, new piece of glass in the salty water and it goes on a journey. It gets swept up in currents, it gets jostled along the sand, it gets bashed by rocks, it dips, it dives, it creeps, and by the time the ocean spits it out on the shore, it looks a lot different than when it started its journey. It possesses character. It is unique. It is a lot more beautiful than it was initially. It is weathered and wordly and oft treasured by folks like me. Yeah, when I round the final corner of my life, I want to be just like a piece of beautiful sea glass….
It doesn’t matter where you hang your hat, there is a lot of wonder and beauty to be found on this big, giant marble of ours. If you simply open your eyes and take the time to look for it. Whether you are sitting on your porch, hiking along a trail in the woods, sitting at the sweet, salty ocean, or commuting to & from work — take a few minutes to notice the beauty and abundance all around you. That is the absolute best possible piece of advice I can give you today….