The ocean is a deep womb, holding and nurturing all life in her depths. I know this, for she held me close for years as I sailed upon her waters towards a horizon that I have yet to reach. Dancing with her on several small boats, I moved across her face, pushed by the winds that coursed across her surface, forever aware that beneath her surface, there is this great calm. She could be as still as a breathless day, her great fluid mass not moving at all but for the pull of the moon or winds that passed over her, stirring her, changing her moods, changing her texture.
Those winds, like life, pushed her waters to rise up into mountains, up which we rode in our little boats, after which we’d plunge down into her valleys, not unlike a surfer on the mammoth waves of Nazare or Jaws. There were many days, too, where the winds were but a tickle on her cheek, a feather brushing across its mirror-smooth waters, leaving her to lay still, quiet, truly pacified. There were days that seemed to never end as we sat in her doldrums, looking deeply into her depths. (Doldrums, by the way, are not sad; they are deep and still.) We followed the Bible rays of the sun down, down as far as they reached until they no longer reflected the blue sky above. She gave us night waltzes too where the dancers were like feetless ballerinas, lighting her up in a mesmerizing phosphorescent dance on the darkest of nights with the only music being the lap and lisp of water against our hull.
She is the giver of life, from which we all on land once came. Flying fish often emerged from her watery womb, landing on our decks. Playful dolphins swam with us for hours or gave us a front-row seat to the circle of life of which we all participate in one way or another. This particular show of life taking life was witnessed in a squall line that churned the water, attracting a school of small fish which attracted a school of tuna, which attracted a mile-long line of porpoises that had come to feast and have their fill. Life giving life.
If one is lazy or tired or not observant, great moments of friendship pass by in the night. A whale of unknown species joined us one chilly night. Outlined by a phosphorescent glow the length of our 45-foot boat, she traveled only feet from our hull, exhaling her fishy breath in a calm rhythm. She moved silently, but for those breathy exhales, until the sun began to lighten the sky. I’m sure she knew we were not one of her kind — but kind she knew we were; definitely not a dangerous fishing trawler. She blew a final farewell and disappeared into the depths.
The ocean gave us her bays and shorelines, too, in which she allowed us to drop anchors into her lesser depths, to stay awhile, where we watched a wedding of sorts as she kissed the shore and caressed the sands. And, yes, crashed against rocks and headlands. In anger? No. It was just the wind that appeared to be moving her, stirring her. She never resisted as the storms and currents played across her. In her calm depth, she let them pass, as we, in meditation, let our thoughts pass, remaining calm deep down, just simply allowing the wind to speak its voice. It is both her deep calm and her changing moods or moving currents that have given me life’s lessons and nurtured my soul. Blessed Mother Ocean, thank you.
These days I no longer sail on her surface but when I stand on the shores, on the cliffs, and see her endless reach beyond the horizon, the places where the albatross fly, I return to her embrace, the love she shared with me, the peace she revealed, a gift deeply held, even in what I perceive as her most tumultuous moments. Or mine.
I leave you with this, a beautiful song that is also a gift from the sea. I know because I hear it in the words and in the tune. Several years ago, staying a few days at Cabinas Sol y Mar in Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, a man named Bob Tobin, a musician, was in the cabin next to us. He came there each year for three or four weeks. He asked if he could serenade us. Like the whale that traveled with us all night, why would anyone turn away from a beautiful gift. This song speaks to me just as the ocean does. Enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exbx6OCZOlw (The song itself starts at 1:35)
May you all remember the sky you were born under, and the sea that gave you life.