I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.
It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (my favorite book, go read it)
In classical mythology, the ocean encircles the world. The sun rises out of the ocean and, at the end of the day, disappears back into it again. The ancient Greeks wrote of Chaos as the first thing that existed before Gaia, the earth, arose. Gaia birthed Uranus, the sky, and together they created Oceanus, the ocean. The ocean is formless just like the earth was in Genesis right after the Creation: And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:2) The ocean has a vastness and depth with which we seem endlessly fascinated. The Qu’ran, too, narrates that if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea was ink, replenished thereafter by seven seas, the words of God would not be exhausted. (Luq. 31:27) We’ve told and written poems, stories, books about the seas, included them in our religions, we’ve polluted and partly destroyed them in our frenzy for riches, and yet 95% of the ocean remains, to us, unknown.
I’ve always felt drawn to the sea. There’s something intriguing and terrifying about seeing only water as far as I can look and not knowing how deep it is or what’s below the surface. There’s a town in Iceland called Vík: the surf is always very rough there, and if you would look straight ahead with magical binoculars so that you would be able to see around the world, you’d be able to look all the way to the South pole without seeing land in between. It’s my favorite beach to be. It’s interesting, but apart from that, something about the ocean enables me to feel at home, or maybe to forget, or both, wave after wave sloshing […], wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. (Atwood’s Oryx and Crake) During the many years that I dreamt of dying I almost always saw myself walking into the ocean. I have a poem from some years ago about how I cannot live on land but always end up returning to sea. My favorite campings are the ones from which you can hear the waves.
I am calm whenever I am near the sea but I wanted to be the sea. I wanted to be the sky and the earth together; to be formless myself but to reflect whatever was above me, to be a home for whatever was within, to softly form whatever was below; and, mostly, to contain everything anyone could ever feel. Because I was only human and felt powerless and small. Because the pain in the world hurt me and oceans are never sad. Because I couldn’t nourish the things I carried inside. Because I felt too much. Because I already seemed different from what I was anyway; because I never recognized myself and if I were without form then at least I wouldn’t have to. The ocean fits in every story; untouchable and always where it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t look for reasons to exist while I still do.
Long ago, the earth originated from chaos, and then sky and ocean came to be. Some days I am chaos, waiting to create life and solid ground. Some days I am earth, carrying all the waters we know. Some days I just miss the heartbeat of the waves. But today my words are my waves, and I am simply me.
PS I meant to write something about my birthday I don’t know what happened