Lessons From the Sea
Tomorrow will get better.
I watch the ocean daily. At first, I run to the edge of my balcony and gaze as far as the morning light allows. I look for breaking white water. If I see it, I know a portion of surf is on call. If I don’t, I try to find a trace of chaos on the outskirts towards the horizon, a telltale sign for the presence of wind.
On my drive to work, I see the water change color. On the backside of the airport, the sea is dark blue, and small boats drop their nets in hopes of a multitude. As the coast continues north shades of lighter blue and breaking waves unfurl on earth that is black and green. I imagine the ocean enjoys calmer days, where disorder is a foreigner. In her changing faces, I’m learning from my gazing.
1. Setbacks are temporary
If the ocean is anything, it is constant through its changes. It carries walls of water on many days, a barrage of battering by the wind, but most often a stillness that keeps postcards or photos at dusk.
When I experience setbacks, the temptation grows to resign to a sadness that invokes defeat, stealing from the day, the week, and sometimes the month. But the ocean carries on in any condition. The wild blue sea is a message of hope that tomorrow will be better if today is not what one thinks it should be.
Or today is utterly beautiful and can be enjoyed without measure. She doesn’t worry or fret when her waters are wild, or her currents are swirling like a giant-sized washing machine. She only is. And she knows that “this too shall pass.”
2. We look at life with a short-sighted lens.
We believe our future binds like superglue to our present moment. But nothing can be further from the truth.
I am so impressed at large swells. They produce waves in bays I’ve never watched the water turn white. At first, I want to stop everything, apply a generous portion of wax, and catch every possible ride.
But then an obligation comes along and draws energy to anything but an afternoon surf. A thousand waves have gone until my mind lands back on the ocean. And every wave is still in place, unfurling perfectly on rocks and sand. Every wave an invitation to enjoy that which I thought was lost.
When that swell disappears as it inevitably must, the ocean sets another table to come and feast. Days where calm waters only exist, there are opportunities to snorkel or teach my children how to swim.
3. Opportunity is alive.
When one can find the courage to put little stock in disappointments or unexpected failures, then real life can be found in every moment. Time marches forward. Violent waves become smaller as swells of pressure fall. Angry winds eventually cease as the hour darkens then becomes bright again. More importantly, in furious conditions, there is an offer of exhilaration for the brave if they are present to find it.
My goal is to worry less, to spend fewer minutes wishing something weren’t or regretting an outcome that didn’t fall on the lines, I thought. My vision is to be like the ocean, to absorb the swells and winds, to know that calm days are only moments away or to welcome the adventure of an unsteady tide.
I met a man on the sea the other day. He lost everything he ever thought that made him. His eyes were bright with hope. He breathed as though he kept eternity.
“How do you do it?”
“How do you stay so positive and okay with your situation?”
He smiled at me while looking at the high mountain behind us.
“Look what we have. Look at this beauty all around. It’s a story they’re telling, you know.”
I foolishly asked.
“Everything is going to be okay. All will be made right. Stay present to what may be and what may come. I’m only worried about catching the next wave.”