waves

What is it about the ocean? 

I woke up in a funk this morning.  I was feeling fragile and working hard not to begin the day in a mess of tears.  There was no reason.  It’s grief or it’s happiness or it’s fear or it’s gratitude; doesn’t matter.  In those moments, I struggle to stay present lest I be lost in emotion.  Then in other moments, I am so present I get overwhelmed.  There is no balance between grace and the horrors of this world.  Grace always wins. 

I had the good fortune of being near the ocean this morning.  Sky and water bouncing into each other in a dance of fluid light. Soft sand still warm enough for bare feet, defying the coming of fall. Waves, the constant motion,fall09 069 a lullaby. I had an urge to fling myself onto the ground and make angels in the sand.  I think it was a desire to hold the earth and sea with gratitude for its gifts.  There is an indescribable peace in such moments.

When I was five, my sister Debbie took me into the waves at York Beach.  She was twelve.  I worshiped her.  The waves were solid, bone-numbing they were so cold, huge.  Debbie took me out to where they were breaking and held me in front of her. She would yell to me “here comes a rumbler, get ready!”  I was terrified and thrilled as a wall of water well over my head crashed with enough force to knock us both backward.  We tumbled in the white water.  Sometimes, she would hold onto me all the way in and we would end up in a heap on the shore.  Most of the time, we got thrashed violently; held down and spun like seaweed so that we couldn’t tell which way was up until we were thrown onto the sand.  I learned to surrender to the waves.  Fear gave way to thrill once I realized that eventually, I would crash onto the beach, find my breath, stand on solid ground. 

I realize now–this memory, which I love so well, is part of what binds me to the ocean.  On the surface, it is me and my beloved sister playing on a summer day.  It is innocence and laughter.  It is me trusting my sister, without question, enough to allow her to hold me facing waves: scary and uncontrollable.  It is learning to allow the ocean to cradle me as it overpowered me.  It is understanding that eventually, it would deliver me to solid ground.

Deeper, this memory, like the ocean, sustains me. I am drawn to both.  At the beach, I cannot be trapped in my head.  There is no will or need to cope or to seek or to struggle.  Some part of that five year old surfaces and I am trusting and innocent and allowing the ocean to carry me.  I see now that it was up to me to determine how long I waited on the shore and recovered my breath and balance before I went right back into those waves.  I see now how it has become a metaphor for life.  My anguish, my questioning…the tender ache of life’s bittersweet blessings…grief, happiness, fear, gratitude:  I am learning again to trust that each wave will eventually return me to solid ground as long as I surrender to it.

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7 Comments on “waves”

  1. David Says:

    The depth of your writing defies its lyrical simplicity, and its gentle rhythms cradle the aching beauty of its insights. You are not only a gifted writer, you are a gift.

  2. Tiffany Says:

    Susan – You are an amazing writer. I envy your talent. Enjoying your writing. Thanks for sharing your world with us.

  3. Christopher Says:

    OK, as someone who just moments ago nearly wrestled you to the ground for the last two almond croissants at the Monkey Bakery, I was prepared to come back, log onto your blog, and flow right on in a straight line of laughter. But, the woman is profound! Seriously, it was great to meet you Susan and being on deadline I have only been able to skim your blog. But your writing drills down and pierces the heart of a matter with a quick precision and affection. Best. Christopher.

  4. Tnelson Says:

    I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!


  5. Wow, does anyone dare to say that your blog about the ocean is deep? I had to go for humor because your mom’s comment was almost as profound as her daughter’s blog. Great job again!

  6. Mom Says:

    I’ve decided you’re either an “ocean person” or you aren’t. I definitely am, and obviously, so are you. Isn’t it amazing that no matter what’s happening in your life or your state of mind, the waves still come in and crash, and the tides still go in and out. The constancy, the sound and the smell — restores my soul. Good job again!

  7. missy Says:

    loved it .you nailed it about the ocean ,and so beautifully put…..keep them coming they are great


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