Inside Looking Out: Coming to the water
It was the Fourth of July week.
American flags dotted Bethany Beach in Delaware and by 8 a.m., the line of umbrellas stretched for as far as the eye could see. If any national holiday makes me feel patriotic, warms the blood in my veins to make me reflect about the wars of victory that salvaged our freedom and kept us as “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” it’s this early summer mark on the calendar.
Yet, the holiday and its meaning were of no concern to the Atlantic Ocean, which like all bodies of salt or fresh water, offers many reasons why people bring themselves to their shores.
The early morning, just after sunrise, was special to me. Few walked along the beach while others cast their fishing lines over the surf in hopes of landing the big one.
The sound of the waves crashing, the sight of the awakening sun shining upon the rolling water created a bond of friendliness among strangers. Some people smiled at me, some said good morning; others welcomed a conversation. Put the same people in places not near water and you will mostly get everyone minding their own business.
I walked the edge of the tide down to the fishing zone where long rods were propped into holders stuffed into the sand and I came across a guy from Maryland.
We talked about anything and everything while we watched the morning sky cast light on the ocean. Even politics came into the conversation, but the pristine place we stood upon soon inspired a quick change of subject.
Water has a way of taming the beast in all of us.
You sense the almighty power of the ocean and you feel its strength inside of you. The constant liquid movement mesmerizes your mind and brings all anxiety to a stop.
Bob looked out at the horizon and said, “Being here makes me an optimist.”
Writer M.L. Borges wrote, “The calming movement of the sea along with the restless ocean breeze gently caresses me, creating a soothing trance which lulls me to a place of peace.”
Tropical storm, Elsa blasted through Bethany on late Thursday night. Strong winds, a biting rain and a tornado warning sent everyone scurrying for cover.
Damage, however, was nearly nothing unless you counted the 10 year - old boy in the next - door condominium who ran into a table and sustained a cut under his eye after he had heard that the tornado could rip the roof off the place.
The ocean changed her personality the day after Elsa had barged through. Instead of the easy rolling face of her waves, she was like an unruly child with a bad attitude, crashing her white capped surf along the entire length of the beach. She was still beautiful, but in a different way, showing off with a new behavior, delighting the few beach walkers who had come down to observe her sassy demeanor.
If I could take the entire population of the United States and bring them to the shores of the oceans, and lakes and rivers, the water would calm the stress in everyone and within a day or two, we’d have a country moving toward a universal fellowship.
We’d see a people united in harmony, unfazed by color or culture. Water, fresh or salted, heals the hurts and soothes the souls. Singer Josh Groban says it best in his song, “River.”
“This raging world can get so overwhelming. Looking for a meaning when it won’t make sense. In my head it’s getting loud like I can’t outrun this cloud …. So I walk down to the river where the troubles, they can’t find me. Let the waters there remind me. The sun will be there when we wake.”
The ocean, the lake, the river, and the brook have a mystical and spiritual effect upon us. Groban sings, “Let the calm pull me under far beyond the thunder. And tell me it will all be OK. Let the waves take all my worries. Conquer them with fury. Give me shelter; be my escape.”
We’re born from water in the womb. As babies, we laugh and splash the water in the bath tubs. As we grow older, sometimes the best part of our day is a refreshing shower, a float in the backyard pool, a kick back in the jacuzzi, some needed hydrotherapy in the hot tub.
Henry David Thoreau wrote that when the land is dried by drought, the willow tree will send its roots out to find water. He says the roots will return to where the life of the tree began. We the people, unlike the willow, move our roots farther away from source of our creation leaving us wandering in the arid desert thirsting for something that is not there.
There is the presence of a human drought now. What if we drink in the mystery of the sea, taste the sun sparkling across the surface of a lake or bathe in the sensation of sound made by the babble of the brook or the rushing water of the river?
I left Bethany Beach refreshed from the embrace of Mother Nature. She held me in her arms of water, wind and sand, and sent me back home, fully revived in spirit.
Rich Strack can be reached at email@example.com.