Sitting on a cliff this evening in a brisk February wind, a forbidden cigarette cupped in my paw as the waves pounded into the rocky bay below, I thought about the sea and it’s meaning for me.
I am not sure what it is about the sea that makes me feel close to everywhere or why that gives me comfort but that is what it does. I would hate to be landlocked but I can see the comfort someone could feel living inland, amongst rolling hills, safe in a landscape that changed slowly, that didn’t pull the ground from beneath your feet but was still threaded with winding rivers and shimmering lakes to hint at the passing of things.
I am not the type of person that fares well with insecurity so inland should be the place for me and it is a puzzle that, by the sea, where my whole vista is constantly on the move, is where I feel safest.
When I was little I supposed everywhere else was entirely different, impossible exotic and vividly coloured like the little illustrations on our jigsaw map of the world. When I grew up and travelled a little I was surprised by how much is familiar. The folded mountains in the desert look like our own Comeragh Mountains. That sky, it wasn’t deep turquoise (Pantone 315) but our own cyan!Those clouds I know them too, even that green that was supposed to only belong to us, why, it’s everywhere. There are variations of course, the mountains in the desert are yellow and purple not green and blue, the clouds are sometimes bigger and flashier with their silver lightning lassoes but of all elements I think the ever-changing sea is the most recognisable.
Maybe it is the big oceans I am thinking of for The Aegean is a wonder of its own and I have not yet had the pleasure of Asian Island hopping on emerald seas but, so far, all sea that laps the ocean shores I have been on could be interchanged, from Namibia’s Skeleton Coast to Mozambique’s tropical shores, from California’s Half Moon Bay to the rocky cliffs of Achill Island.
Understandable then why the big sea whispers and roars to me of far off places. Not only has the water I am looking at touched a distant shore but the unseen forces that move it are the same and unlike the land where the imprint of such forces are at least semi permanent and built up in layers, emphasising local anomalies, the mark of the world on the sea is immediately visible and the instantly gone.
This then could be why I find the sea so comforting, that it speaks of the moment, nothing else matters. Whatever disturbs its surface is here and then gone while the essence remains, changing and yet unchanged.
This isn’t an unique conclusion to reach I suppose, it is popular to speak of living in the moment these days but then there is a reason it is popular. The now is all we have and it is the place we all desire to be whether we know it or not. In the now there is nothing to worry about, nothing to regret, nothing to feel down about. All our perceived mistakes and missteps are as sand on the wind.
In the now the forces we are buffeted or caressed by, the sorrows, the failures, the grief, the success, the achievements, merely shape us momentarily and whether, like the waves, we are elegant, beautiful shimmering green tubes, bashful ripples, low blue swells or tearing, raggedy monsters rushing in to explode with passion onto the shore, that is who we are, momentary creatures in a dance much vaster than we can see.