Thursday, May 26, 2011


"The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine. With the tide turning, it leans quietly against the land, almost unflecked by ripples or by foam... we are in the north, and the bright sunshine cannot penetrate the sea" Iris Murdoch - "The Sea, The Sea"

Last weekend I was drawn to the ocean, and my experience is reflected well in these opening lines penned by Iris Murdoch. It had an immediate visceral impact on me as it often does and I was abundantly aware how blessed I am to be living near the sea and to have the privilege of this being a place of solace.

My endless fretting about almost everything is often immediately placated by the natural rhythms of the sea as it unfolds before me. It's as if the movement of the tides match the rhythm of my breathing, creating a sort of sensory integration where breath and sea are one in the same.

I find Murdoch's words resonating, not just because Vancouver has been exceptionally dim and grey these last few months, but by the wonderful notion of the sea being "impenetrable" in some places. This impenetrable sea is unsettling at times, as one's own smallness in the scheme of things becomes apparent, swallowed in the vast undefined mass of the eternally shifting water.

It also bring me comfort though, and it is liberating to have my ego, and sense of self swallowed up for even a moment by something that is so impenetrable, unknowable, yet also familiar. The crashing rhythm of waves and ocean currents is an eternal song, my participation is welcomed though completely unnecessary for it's continuation.

Strangely reassuring for me are these thoughts that drift for a moment over, though never through, the impenetrable water.

(The photo was taken last weekend on a greyish day by the ocean at Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver)


Randal Graves said...

I think you're just happy the Canucks are in the finals.

A poor substitute, but heading down to Lake Erie conveys the same epic yet calm groove.

Word verification: dental, an actual word.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Your beautifully poetic post is every bit as deep and vast as the sea itself. You are indeed blessed to have the sea at your doorstep, a continual reminder of the vastness of nature and the tininess of the single human being.

I love being at the seaside, but find it a little intimidating. A lake is a much more manageable body of water.

Westcoast Walker said...

Randal - you figured me out - my ocean euphoria was simply some good ol' fashioned Stanley cup related giddiness - I swear I saw a merman stopping ocean pucks from a three headed sea serpent.

Thanks Barb - I am sure there are some lovely and awe inspiring lakes that one can also lose themselves in!