Near the Water

Lately I have been pondering the ocean and what it means, and why it has become so important, to me. I have been quite surprised what I have thought about and learned about myself.

I never used to be an ocean person, and looking back it seems odd on the surface for an Aquarius to not think much about the water. I never cared for the suntan/sunburn/sand in the crack of my ass type of ocean places. Yeah, it is nice and it IS fun to play in the water and cool off on a bright, sunny day. For me, however, I have always leaned more towards mountains – the physical beauty of jagged, snow-capped peaks and breathtaking vistas just around the next corner or over the next hill.

The first time I laid eyes on a rugged and rocky coastline was a game changer for me. Here was something new and spectacular – I had the rugged physical features of the cliffs and rocks blended with the calm serenity of the water. I found it to be an interesting contrast of two opposite things. “There just might be something to this water thing after all!” I thought to myself.

In 2012 when I decided to move up here to Washington I was going in blind for the most part. All I knew for sure was that I was going to be the Caretaker at a National Wildlife Refuge on the northern coast of Washington on the outskirts of Olympic National Park. Hmmm…mountains and ocean. This should be a good place to be.

Well, it turned out to NOT be a good place. It was a GREAT place! There are not many places you can be with mountains and ocean so close. I was captivated by my surroundings from Day 1 and I still am 3½ years later. The magic of the mountains has become the magic of the ocean as well, and the two together is so incredible that it is hard to describe.

I have posted previously about all the things I have gotten to do since being up here so they do not need to be repeated. It really has been an incredible journey and it has been, and continues to be, amazing to me.

Not being on the ocean has been harder than I thought it would be. It’s not the end of the world, but I really do miss it. But just what do I miss? What is it that draws me to it? I have really put some thought into it and I have come up with a few things.

First, let me say this. The mountains have always had that magic to me. Since I was young I have always been drawn to them. I really did not give much thought to any other types of surroundings. Now that I have gotten older I have expanded my horizons and I see the beauty in other types of nature – the desert in all of its vast nothingness has its own beauty that I have experienced, although not as much on a personal level as hiking and camping in the mountains. Working in the refuges and seeing different animals and creatures has given me a different perspective on the things around me and now I don’t “need” to extinguish the tiny life forms (spiders, bugs, and such) from existence. It is just not necessary. It has really changed me and my life is much calmer for the most part. I can say without a doubt that I am a different and better person in part because of it.

A few weeks ago I had to go back up to the San Juans for some business. Getting on the ferry brought it all back to me – the sounds, the smell of the salt air, to gentle rocking of the boat. With that being said, my attraction to the ocean has been a puzzle to me to some extent – just what is it that draws me to it? Yeah, boating, crabbing, seeing whales near my boat, etc. are just the visible aspects. To me, there is the vastness of it for one thing. It’s water as far as you can see; an infinity of water if you will. No end to it, no beginning to it…it’s just all around us. Sometime it rears up and makes its presence known but mostly it just lies there calmly lapping against the shoreline.

Another thing is that it doesn’t really change like the physical features of the earth. Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, sandstorms, and flooding all physically change the earth but once the flooding is over water returns to its calm self, enjoying a day at the beach. Interestingly, it’s probably the only thing of all the things I mentioned that we can try to control but can never fully tame.

It is relaxing to be near the water, and it is similar to staring into a campfire for hours on end (which I have done many times while camping). Nothing really changes, but yet it does. It is peaceful, it is mesmerizing, and it is something that is so big, so powerful, and so uncontrollable that it puts us in our lowly place in the grand scheme of things.

In my summer job I operate a boat most every day and I really enjoy my time on the water quite a bit. It enables me to see places and perform my job, but it also is both calming and exciting to be out there where not everyone gets to go and where many have never been or never will go.

I was on the internet a few days ago and came across an interesting article. It was rather timely given that I had started to ponder my “need” for the saltwater and it really brought up some interesting observations that I can definitely understand. It also helped me identify other reasons I have grown to like the ocean.

In closing this post I would like to add this: I have been fortunate enough to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in the mountains in Colorado – one big item scratched off of my bucket list. I never thought it could be better but I was wrong. Being here in Washington and having the mountains AND the ocean has been great, but being able to fully enjoy the water and all it offers (both physically and emotionally) has been something really special.

It’s good to be home.

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