Lessons from the Sea

“The sea can do craziness; it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely. As I can too, and so, no doubt, can you, and you.” 
Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

What do you feel standing on the seashore? Looking out at the horizon, what do you feel? Is it a sense of loneliness, a wash of fear, or childlike excitement and joy? For me, the ocean has served as a place that holds my memories and emotions. As the sea flows toward me, it offers peace, tranquility, forgiveness. As it ebbs, it takes away my fears, regrets, and uncertainty. 

The ocean has seen it all since the beginning of time; think of all the people who have stood at its edge, laughing, crying, celebrating, praying. All those emotions carried out into the sea, and then in return, the sea offers you hope, a sense of forgiveness, a rush of joy. I have visited oceans around the globe, and at each, the sea has provided me with gifts and lessons. The sea has also taken from me what I needed to let go. 

When standing on the edge of the seashore in Big Sur, the waves crash loud, the sea appears angry, swirling around, fiercely mad. The sea ebbs and flows like a bubbling pot of soup. It builds up over time and then crashes down hard and loud. It brings up emotions for me, deep sadness for loved ones lost, dreams that faded away, missed opportunities, and fears. The rumble of the ocean calls to you deep in your soul and asks you to relook at your existence and consider what is essential. It calls out what you don’t want to see and asks you to hand them over and let the waves carry them away. The sea asks me to feel. 

When standing on the shore of Maine’s foggy coast, the ocean is calm, warmed by the sun, and sparkling at sunrise and sunset. The sea is weaving its way around the edgy coastline. It will occasionally crash onto the rocks, but with a sense of confidence, comfort, stability. The sea is a deep blue mixed with the softness of the morning fog. I begin to see things with more clarity as I sit seaside, and I listen to the waves and let them offer me their wisdom. The sea asks me to wait, to breathe, and stand firm even when things are unclear. 

When standing on the coast of North Carolina, the ocean is playful, reminding me of my childhood visits. It is steady, never too strong, but not calm enough to float. It is what I expect; it is like home. It listens as you walk by its side; it comforts you, relaxes you, and offers you joy. The sea has seen me many times. It has heard me laugh, play, and fall in love. This sea holds my memories, my past, present, and future. This sea asks me to remember the laughter. 

What do you feel when you stand on the seashore? What does the ebb and flow of the ocean conjure up for you? Do you allow it to help you feel, heal, to grow? 

These images express the emotions I allow myself to feel when I stand at the sea shoreline.  I use ICM photography as a way to capture the ebbs and flow of the sea. I don’t think there is any better way to showcase the sea’s undercurrent, how it forms, the way it breathes, and the emotions it holds. As I stand at the edge of the water, I look out at the horizon and wait for the waves, moving my camera in small movements to the left or right. I let my body sway with the rhythm of the ocean as I press the shutter. With my camera, I can capture the texture, the softness, the light, the mirid of colors, and the darkness. With the camera movement, I can capture the ebb and flow. I enjoy photographing a moment in time where the ocean is pouring out its gifts and accepting ours. 

When I review the final images, I remember the oceans I have visited: the solitude found, the peace, the joy. The photos remind me that life ebbs and flows, to cherish the laughter, let go of the pain, and sometimes wait for the clarity.

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