There’s something about the ocean, something that seems to remind us that we are alive again. Well, at least for me. Something about its vastness, the power of the crashing waves, the peacefulness. Everyone loves the beach, but I love the ocean. It’s not about the restaurants, the boardwalk, the rides, not even the ice cream. For me, it’s just the ocean. Listening to it, letting the waves crash over my feet, swimming in it fighting against the waves. That’s the best feeling in the world to me.
It doesn’t matter how freezing the water is, how many shark warnings there are, how many times I get knocked over by waves, how much salt water I get in my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my ears. It doesn’t matter how much sand I get in my bathing suit, how many times my bathing suit almost falls off and I have to fix it before coming back up again. It doesn’t matter how much I hate the way it makes my hair. I love it. Being in the ocean is my favorite place to be.
It’s like this massive force of power yet reminder of peace that brings us all back to the moment. It gives me this indescribable feeling of happiness. It’s not comfortable, it’s uncertain. That’s what I love about it. Constantly waiting for the next wave, contemplating how it will form and crash. It’s exciting yet it always brings about a small sense of fear, but the good kind.
It’s a reminder of the uncertainty of life for me. I always say the things that scare me most are the things that make me the happiest. The things that make me most uncomfortable are the things that ultimately make me feel the most strength. And I think that’s true for everyone. That moment that you run straight into the ocean despite how freezing it is, or the moment you jump into a pool for the first time, you feel alive in that moment. It’s the same as that moment when you finally work up the courage to talk to your crush, and you get that rush of adrenaline. You jump into a sense of fear, discomfort, and uncertainty but at the same time a feeling of excitement and strength.
But generally we don’t seem to like fear. We don’t like to do things we’re afraid of. We don’t like to public speak if we don’t have to. We don’t like to get out of our routine, our comfort zones. We have preconceived notions and ideas about things, so we don’t like to do something out of the ordinary. Yet we’re always bored. We complain about the dullness of our lives and grow entirely uninterested by the things we do day after day.
This is why I hate routine. I always have times when I wake up day after day feeling this sense of routine and repetition with my life. Waking up in the same spot, doing the same thing each morning, getting into the same (bad) habits, and so I get this dreadful feeling. There’s a certain amount of routine that becomes necessary or inevitable in our lives. But when EVERYTHING becomes routine, and our lives become entirely planned out, we slowly lose the excitement of life, and we stop seeing the world around us.
So I make an effort to change it up. Even with the most basic of things: since I’ve been home from college, I usually sleep in my bed, but some nights I like to sleep on the couch or on the hammock outside just for a change. I have a pretty consistent work schedule for the most part. I usually ride my bike there because it’s faster, but sometimes I’ll decide to walk just because. I meditate every day, but I always choose a different spot. I even meditate in unusual spots and uncomfortable spots on purpose, like in a closet or in the bathroom, or outside by the pond near where the garter snake lives (that I’m kind of afraid of). These simple things that allow me to feel the changeability of life, and see things in a different perspective.
The point is that discomfort and fear are essential in life. But there’s a fine line between fear and strength. There’s a fine line between uncertainty and certainty. It’s usually the things that terrify us that we want the most. It’s the things that matter. If they didn’t matter we wouldn’t be so afraid, if it didn’t matter the thought wouldn’t even exist in our mind. So it’s the things that cause us to put something on the line, whether it be our emotional or our physical comfort. We’re afraid because we have something to lose.
So if we never allow ourselves to take a chance or take a risk, we may be comfortable but we are not fully experiencing life. We will just keep wishing we were stronger. It’s scary and it’s difficult to face our fears, and it’s MUCH easier said than done. But in order to make the change that we want or to be the person that we want, we need to feel uncomfortable. For example, I’ve been using writing as an outlet for the last year a lot. I would type endlessly in Word documents whenever I had a lot on my mind, sometimes things that made absolutely no sense or things that didn’t really matter just as a way of relieving all of the thoughts in my head. I always consider my writing very personal. So when I started this blog, I got nervous about sharing it with people and letting people see mind. It seems so stupid now, and even from such a small step I feel stronger.
Everyone needs a little bit of uncertainty and fear in their lives that makes them realize that they are alive, that reminds them of the things that life is all about. Everyone needs a challenge, something to fight for, something to push them. Without any challenge or risk, without any change, life becomes boring. Life is amazing and endlessly beautiful. There are an infinite number of ways of looking at the world, and there are infinitely beautiful things that exist. Even things right in front of us all the time, we can look at it a new way.
So that’s what we love about the ocean.
It reminds us of the beauty of being alive. This massive body of water has a million different forms and meanings. It is incredibly powerful yet also universally calming. It exists everywhere in the world just the same, yet is entirely different in every place. The ocean makes us forget about all those little things for a moment as we never fail to be amazed by its magnificence. It gives us thrill and peace all at once. It’s unchanging yet constantly changing. It is everything.
So when I go to the shore, it’s not about the shopping, food, rides, drinks, games, it’s the simple natural thing that gives me the most joy. It’s symbolic of the changeability and uncertainty of life, of everything. And we all need that something that reminds us that we are alive and of the powers greater than ourselves that allow us to come back to the present.
“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”
– Pema Chodron