When one visits an ocean beach for the first time, it is likely during a vacation or holiday of some sort. A festive attitude is usually the prevalent mood. Statistically, most of those first-time visitors go home with nothing worse than a sunburn and lots of sand in their car. But not everyone escapes with such an innocuous experience.
Every ocean beach has a great body of water that is attached to one of its edges. In that edge zone, there is a tug-of-war that takes place. Land and sea are locked in a ceaseless struggle. It is known as the surf. It is hypnotic. It is fascinating. It is beautiful. It is the best diversion in the universe.
While the human mind is occupied with the distraction of the surf, hidden mysteries are playing out just beyond sight. A subtle tension is ever present, but not evident. It is just below the surface and just beyond the horizon at the same time.
It is the call of the sea. But it does not call all people. Or perhaps it does and some resist it.
To those of us who hear it, the sea whispers into our imagination. It is like a drug we cannot shake off.
The ocean is filled with mystery. There are thousands of shipwrecks on the ocean floor, each with a story. There are so many untold stories. My imagination tries to fill in the blanks when I see evidence of a sunken vessel on my depth sounder. I also visualize the fish schooling there.
Speaking of fish, there are creatures, large and small, awaiting discovery in the ocean. They may actually be avoiding discovery. Some that are well known can be exhilarating when viewed. Watching orcas (killer whales) hunt is fascinating and chilling at the same time. I have been fishing in a small boat in foggy conditions, and heard a pod of orcas “blowing” nearby. That can make the hair on a billiard ball stand up. That was a “Call me Ishmael” moment for me. Yet I can't break the allure that the sea has on me.
Then there is the horizon to consider. That elusive, promising horizon is always out there, like a Siren, calling us beyond. It represents an endless scope of exploration. The imagination begins at that indefinitive line. So many breathtaking views have been witnessed after surrendering to the urge to surpass the horizon.
I think the most remarkable feature of the sea is its power. The ocean has tremendous power. It is not infinite power, mind you. That belongs to God alone. However, the unthinkable amount of power displayed by the sea should make us humble. Yet so many miss that point. While pathetic mortals are frolicking on the beach, flexing whatever they think is impressive to their fellow mortals, the sea is relentlessly grinding stone and shell into sand. It has been doing so since the beginning. It will do so until the end. What a lame species we have proven to be. The joke is on us and the sea laughs and keeps on grinding.
And some people think the sea does not laugh. Even the seagulls get that one.