Growing up right by the Pacific Ocean and the sandy Southern California beaches was a gift that I didn’t fully see in all of it’s glory and splendor until much later in life. The memories are now held dear.
I can still close my eyes and imagine being there, the warmth of the sun cooled to perfection by a gentle breeze blowing over the water. Toes crunching in the sand often attempting to skim over the surface of the beach as the very hot grains tortured bare feet.
Trying to find the “perfect spot” to lay a towel and still be able to have the best vantage point for the constantly unfolding panorama. Standing guard over delicious morsels of food that the seagulls will nab in an instant if you but take your eyes off of them for a single moment!
The tangy smell of salt from a body of water so immense that there was no seeing to the “other side” of it. If you were fortunate, a dolphin or sea lion would leap out and entice you into the water to play. Tide pools a tempting curiosity that held attention for long moments in time, and oft times a rocky perch would suffice as a vantage point for focused reflection and pen put to paper.
Sitting on my imaginary beach beside a roaring fire the ocean waves crash and race each other to the shore. It is the water that draws me more than any other element here. It appears endless and certainly uncontrollable by a simple human like me. Only the natural elements can commune, shift and transform the tide and the world beneath in harmonious ways. Only humans can destroy the balance here.
So many hours spent in the embrace of the sea. It seems like a moment ago that I was riding the crest of a wave with sea lions racing towards the shore next to me. Riding on top of the ocean current is an exhilarating feeling – whether on boogie board, surf board or within the space of a body. What is essential is to be in contact with the salt filled water. Smelling its tang, feeling the texture next to your skin as the currents push and pull, and occasionally tasting the salty brine that you hadn’t quite expected.
It is definitely a rush to be one with a wave and it is not without an element of overwhelming awe and at times a tinge of fear for good measure. I liken it to how we approach life in any given moment. There is a doing when we take on the attitude of being the most skilled at riding a wave and all that goes into the sport of it. Added into that can be a presence of observing each minute part of this journey, yet somewhat removed from actually what is happening in any given moment. Then there is engagement, where the doing and observation is transformed – a complete and utter surrender into direct embodied relationship with the elements.
Of the latter I will weave a story of such utter engagement that there is no room for focusing on simply observing or doing. Perhaps it is a combination of all three that join together when in one moment you are skimming the surface of foam on the crest of a wave, and in the next find yourself within a watery world where a sense of direction and belonging to any order is obliterated. Where organized elemental chaos reigns.
What is it like to inhabit the inner workings of the sea when a wave has ceremoniously and suddenly dumped you within it’s crashing towards the shore?
Disorientation, panic, fear, physical upset can join each other in a dance that does not have steps. Nor are there any precise steps to learn in those moments. What rides along, resting underneath the human primal urge to survive, is an opportunity to find out what happens in the spaces in between a world of roiling, murky water becoming in an instant calm again. Providing a clear pathway to life giving oxygen and the upper world of a surface landscape.
Yet, in those moments when everything feels blown apart and resembles the experience of tumbling down a rabbit hole, an instant in time suddenly appears where one is requested by forces much greater to simply let go of the struggle. To intimately make love to, and commune in union with, the elements of water, salt and sand by allowing their united collaboration to lead the way.
Can it be that the simple practice of halting the process of breathing for a few moments while making love with the sea can provide a space of unequaled opportunity to know what it is like to surrender completely. A surrender that asks nothing less than to submit your will to the elements that make up the cells of your being.
Breaking free into the world above your private watery womb is exhilarating. Releasing into an anam cara (soul friendship) with the very elements that have just recently captured the space of your body completely. For in an instant, you realize that this merging has brought you home to freedom and a joy in simply being alive.
Suddenly finding the shifting ground beneath your soles brings gratitude. A celebration of now that only the watery embrace just moments ago could have opened space for. What is it to breathe freely once again? To feel so intimately connected with something so powerful is at once humbling and ecstatic.
Take these moments and weave them into the story of You. Know that you have been given a second chance to prostrate yourself before Life and God and all that claims aliveness. For you are among the cells that make up the entire cosmos. That have just moments ago danced with the possibility of a death of sorts, and found on the other side that there is no duality, only a claim to breathe.
To courageously and creatively express the at times painful ecstasy of what it is to be human – traveling towards the shore of Being.
OTHER BLOGS BY GAYE ABBOTT:
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