For week 16 of the 52 Blogs project we’re writing about the big wet, also known as the ocean…
I love ocean as a word. It can be used for so many things: to indicate vastness, serenity, distance. It can imply stillness, inclemency, blueness, wetness, and more. Humanity has a primordial relationship with the ocean, so it’s no surprise that it can work its way into our language so easily.
I grew up in London, about an hour away from the ocean on a good day (of course we called it the ‘sea’ in England). To a young boy growing up in a city the ocean easily developed a mythical status, perhaps exaggerated by the fact that England is little more than a large island, dwarfed by ocean on all sides. A trip to the ocean was probably the ultimate day out and it happened, of course, on suitably rare occasions.
Funny thing is I don’t like being in the ocean all that much. In England you’ll get about one day every three years when it’s legitimately warm enough to enter the ocean without a wetsuit. Even on the hot days I’m not a major fan (but like any kid I would happily spend hours daring the waves to take their chance at drenching my ankles.)
For me just being by the ocean was enough of a thrill. When you live In the city (even in the smallish town where I grew up) your view is always obscured by the nearest building. Even if you were to walk down to the park or the river there’d always be something in the way: a tree, a hill, a high rise, a bridge, and so on. At the edge of the ocean you feel like you’re seeing forever: you’re seeing as far as you can see until there’s nothing left to see; until the world seemingly disappears at the edge. The ocean is the place that never ends.
Even now, living five minutes’ from the ocean, I get that thrill every time I see the expanse of water. When I was a boy we’d play that game where the first person to see the ocean would shout out: “I can see the sea!”. Now we see the ocean every day now, every time we drive home from work, but a part of me still wants to shout out as soon as we drive over the crest of that last hill hiding the ocean.
“I can see the sea!”
… but I still don’t like swimming in it much.