The first thing you do when you get to the beach is run down to the edge of the water to feel the ocean for the first time. In the euphoria of running to have your toes caress the frigid water, you fail to see the broken piece of shell in your path. Before you can even touch the water, you are doubled over in pain grasping your throbbing foot. Once you finally compose yourself and get back up, the pain from sand entering the cut on the bottom of your foot is excruciating, but you push through it to get to your final destination. Each step pushes grains of sand further and further into your foot, until finally you reach the water. Miraculously all of your pain goes away once your feet touch the bone chilling water. As you head deeper into the water, the once painful cut feels almost soothing. By the time you leave the beach later that day, you can barely feel the cut. It is almost like it never happened. As your week at the beach goes on, the cut heals faster than any cut you’ve ever had before.
The ocean is my source of solitude. It allows me to be myself and washes away my worries and struggles. However, my relationship with the ocean has not always been this way. For most of my life, I abused the ocean. It was there to provide me with entertainment for three months of the year, while I ignored it the other nine. I treated it like everybody else does. I took advantage of it and gave nothing back. Three summers ago, my mentality towards the ocean changed completely because it was the only thing there to get me through one of the worst days of my life. I was down the shore working for the summer and I woke up to a phone call from my mom at five in the morning telling me my grandfather was being admitted to the hospital because he suffered a heart attack. I had to wake up my grandmother and get her ready to go home, but she too was having health issues. My aunt was the only person there, so she rushed her home where she was also admitted to the hospital. On top of it all, I was working non-stop because we were really short-handed and it was the busiest week of the year. All I wanted was a break. After my aunt took my grandmother back home, I was by myself. I had no one to go to and no one would listen to me. To clear my mind, I went for a walk. I ended up stumbling across a long lost friend. This friend wasn’t a person. It wasn’t an animal. It was the ocean. It listened to my problems and washed my worries and stresses away. It helped me get through these hard times and helped me realize the ocean is not just there. It has a purpose and is more significant than most people think.
Throughout history, the ocean has been heralded as a source of life and vitality. It was preserved, honored, and used for many different ways of life. Today, we still use it, just in different ways. Some people use the calming sound of waves crashing to help fall asleep, other people use it to support their careers and their life. However, not all of our uses for the ocean are good. Many people don’t even think about the ocean. It is a hole that takes all of their physical garbage and hides it from them. They don’t care what happens to it because it doesn’t affect them directly. Unfortunately, this attitude is ruining the ocean. The oceans are in such bad condition that there are giant islands of garbage and plastic in the center of each of the four oceans. Fish populations are crumbling because of overfishing. Coral reefs are being bleached. The overall health of the ocean is diminishing every second.
I believe in the power of the ocean. Everyone has a weird connection with the ocean. Many people don’t realize it until they feel it, but they underestimate the sheer power of the water that surrounds us. It can be our best friend and our worst enemy. It listens when nothing else is around to listen to you and it is always there for you. It is the best friend that most of us don’t have. We need to look at the ocean the way people before us did. The ocean isn’t a hole that we should dump our physical garbage into. The ocean is the best friend that listens to us and can take our emotional baggage so we don’t have to carry it around with us. It is a presence that we should embrace and revere not abuse, because pretty soon it might be not be there for us.