When I stand by the ocean, I feel at home: a reflection on the challenges of communication

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I have always felt at home by the ocean. Being there, I know that I am a part of something much larger than myself and much larger than any difficult situation I might be facing. As I watch the waves roll over and over the shore, I think about how it tosses and smooths out rock. I think about how glass becomes sea glass. Once, a sharp dangerous piece of glass that can cut, now a piece of smooth colorful stone. This all happens with repetition and time. The ocean is beautiful and strong. Under the ocean, exists a whole world bigger than the world we live on upon land. I walked for hours today on the shore. The time melted by and I was simply enjoying every passing moment as the sound of the waves became my song. I began to think about avoidance as the ocean’s waves continually lapped the shore line. The waves do not stop. The ocean does not press pause and retreat. This is not the ocean’s way.  Personally, I have gotten better at not avoiding challenging or sad emotions. But, sometimes, interpersonal things feel too hard to talk about with others, or the fear of hurting someone’s feelings surfaces. Sometimes, life can be challenging and people can hurt you. Whether, they mean to or not does not change the emotions you feel inside. Sometimes, you can hurt people, whether you mean to or not does not change the emotions they feel inside. 

However, avoiding the situation all together does not usually make the issue go away. Instead, the emotions or the pain seem to get sharper like the piece of broken glass on the beach. But I think, perhaps if things were discussed and smoothed over, they would become less sharp like the sea glass. So often it is about the fear of the unknown of what lies on the other side of discussing or admitting our feelings to each other. What will happen then? Will we be able to withstand the pain, vulnerability, or other emotions that might surface? I do believe we can. I now know that regardless of how much the emotional pain or discomfort feels like it will physically split you into two pieces, it won’t. I now know that you, me, and everyone is infinitely stronger and more resilient than we usually give ourself credit for. However, it is still challenging at times to have difficult conversations with loved ones, but often necessary. I often think that, if it becomes natural and normal to discuss our feelings with each other, perhaps it just becomes part of the whole process of living and experiencing life together. Just as, each wave is the ocean and the ocean each wave. Challenges just are.

This is the power of the ocean, with its rhythmic repetition. Would I say the ocean is perfect? No, but what is perfection really? And does the ocean even want to be perfect? It probably just wants to be, because it knows it is so much more than perfect. 

The ocean is beautiful, calming, refreshing, and soothing. But also, like life, the ocean can be scary, dangerous, unknown, and unpredictable. Knowing that the ocean can be all these things, but still magnificent, makes me realize that life is not meant to be black and white, perfect, or always predictable.  The ocean is exactly how it is, and how it will be. The ocean just is. It is constant, but forever changing. It is wise, but humble.

I have to say, however, that for me today, everything about being by the ocean was perfect. I went without expectations. I allowed the ocean to tell me it’s story and sing me it’s song, and I got an unexpected outcome. I got peace.  

I should not be surprised by this, since I always feel this as I stand with my feet in the sand and stare out at the endless horizon. But, I think I forget just how beautiful it is. I guess with some experiences that are as inspiring as the ocean, each time, is like facing a new part of myself. Each time is different. Each time, I fail to find words to describe what I have experienced. 

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