The ocean - Metaphor for our lives


I was 18 years old when I first moved abroad on my own. At the height of summer, I started spending a lot of time at the beach. Sometimes, I would sit on the shore and watch the calm, still ocean flow, without a single thought in the world. Other times, I'd go straight into the rough and rigid waves, until I'd be knee deep in and would see it coming - the most dangerous wave, knowing its formation would crash, and that it was going to take me down. That I would struggle, and feel my knees scrape the sand, my head spin around. I experienced this wave - and have never forgotten what to do next. Over the years I've learnt that with a wave of such strength, powerful enough to pull the rug out from under your feet and drag you straight into the chaos that is the sea, the best you can do is to wait until you see the calm right before the break. You then must make use of that calm space, dive deep into it and you'd come out the other side escaping all of the chaos around you.

The metaphor that life is a sea voyage is ancient and widespread. For all of its beauty, like life, the ocean is a made up of contradictions and mystery. Both wild and calm, dangerous and beautiful - always moving and ever evolving - ever rolling in a constant rhythm of ebb and flow. Sometimes, the wind blows and waves crash, and it seems dangerous. Sometimes, its calm on the surface and tumultuous below the surface and dangers lurk in deep, dark, unknown places. Sometimes we float happily - other times we struggle not to sink and die. Some waters are clear enough for you to see right through, others are deep, dark, hidden below thousands of leagues. On the surface, almost continual activity and change. Underlying the surface, a vast body of water, relatively unmoving, unchanging. It’s still and calm beneath the surface. I've always enjoyed the sea and being surrounded by it. At the same time, nothing scares me more than the ocean - The ocean is so full of life, and I feel very small and humble in the middle of it. 

In a way, the ocean represents the unpredictable life. From the shore, watching the magnificent waves roll in is one thing. It's easy, effortless. Stepping into the ocean is another. And nothing can really prepare you for the felt experience of the ocean. Once you're in, waves will try to knock you down. They'll try to push you back to where you started, crash above you and drag you down like they did to my younger self and sometimes, they will succeed. But once you fight through them, the entire ocean is yours. It's all about that single right moment to jump in without being washed out to sea or thrown back to the shore.

TravelCharline Catteeuw