At the western boundary of our coast, the ocean rumbles and thumps. The closer I get to ocean noise, the better I can think. Loud water is soothing; waterfalls, showers, heavy rain or pounding surf clarify my thinking and cleanse my mind of distraction.
The ocean is deadly and has no emotion, and yet it inspires every emotion in the human heart. One's vision is instantly broadened at land's edge; the sea demands attention, and yet its sound provides a still place for your thoughts, a backdrop of white noise, a meditation.
The land has a lumpy, undulating edge where it meets the ocean. Granite rock and sandstone is abused by the rush of heavy surf and gentle trickles alike. Very few people go to the shore who do not stop and gaze at it. Nearly everyone goes west to that ragged edge of land and feels an inward turn of their mind.
I saw a small girl who wore lavendar pants and pink rainboots. She stood on a boulder just past the tide's rush with the look of a person intent on discovery and possibility. Her hair was tangled and loose in the onshore gusts of cold air, and she looked a wild thing, both old and young all at once, timelessly feminine and unaware of her own potential. She was quiet while the ocean roared.
The ocean has moods and induces states of mind. The pace of swells, the size of waves and sometimes the cold slap of wind against your skin excite or soothe your hopes or fears. What you bring to the shore, you most likely will leave off; fear becomes joy, confidence becomes contentment, or sadness becomes acceptance.
Maybe it's the incessant sweep of waves or maybe it's that odd feeling of inevitability that a huge ocean's restless energy stirs within you. Maybe it's the innate knowledge that the ocean and your own blood are nearly the same. The sea has a never-ending quality of movement and changeability, mystery and threat, but also inscrutability. Every wave is beautiful even though always dependably the same.
That tension and balance between what is known and what cannot be known, of what is out beyond the surf and what is in your own heart, is a recognition that you and it exist in an infinite continuum. It's just water out there, but it moves. It moves and moves you inside but stills you, too, until you cannot be still and must move also. Even then, compelled to move, you find that the kinetic nature of the ocean has brought you calm and peace, a tranquility you hadn't even been aware was missing until you found it.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way