Deep endless blue for thousands of miles. I used to think I could see the other side of the world when I looked at the ocean and that spot on the horizon where it met the orange sky. I wondered where it was. Perhaps Italy or France or India or Australia. All realistic options to me at the time since I refused to learn geography as a child. I used to think about swimming to the other side, just keep going even after hitting the plastic rope that was used to mark off the areas the lifeguard deemed safe to swim. Then, swimming under the rope and continuing on for miles and miles. They wouldn’t notice, and if they did, I’d be too far for them to stop me, especially since crossing those plastic lines would be far too much of a hassle. I craved the silence; far from the people on the beach, far from the sailboats and the jet skis, far enough where it felt like I was too close to the other side to turn back. I wanted my mind to be empty, purely empty, for a brief moment. Something about the silence and brown noise of the ocean was alluring. The ocean captivated me. It drew me in further and further until I couldn’t help but think about the ocean wherever I was, about the fuzziness my brain would feel from the silence, about the mystery of what was on the other side.
Everything about the ocean is enchanting. How cold it feels on my skin on a warm day. The sound of the waves on the shore and how quickly it calms my nerves. People drive hours just to lay on the sand and watch it. And no matter how far I roll my pants up, the ocean leaves them soaked. The ocean connects us all. The people living on the other side, who I may never get a chance to meet, see the same blue as I do, the same water, the same floating seaweed. It’s a connection that makes me feel like I am not alone in this world. They feel the same joy and pain and anger and grief that I do. The ocean also brings this feeling of insignificance. How I am just one of billions in this world. And there’s something comforting in that, knowing the power and size this world has, and knowing how the never-ending dark thoughts questioning my worth and existence that pile in my head take up virtually no space beyond my mind. It was naive to think that the ocean would actually travel to me, that it would be the same ocean that carried seaweed stuck on a nine year old’s leg, the same ocean carried in a pail to carve out a river through a sand castle. Nevertheless, it’s nice to imagine the inherent shared connection between us all. The ocean is homely and meaningful in that way, holding the souls and ashes of thousands of people, including my ancestors, their stories, their dreams, their deepest thoughts. The place for them to finally rest and be at peace, releasing them of the harshness of life and all their worries. To give them peace is to give them a never-ending space for their ashes to spread, while releasing their soul, cleansing it to fill them with purity as they become one with higher power, and stopping any more pain brought onto the soul by ceasing the possibility of another reincarnated life in this world. Finally returning back to where it all began.
I was jealous of the ocean, which sounds crazy but is ultimately true. It is free, it flows in whichever direction it pleases. The waves collapse on each other, pushing themselves closer and closer to where they want to go. The only boundaries are the beaches and land it meets. The ocean is stubborn, and would sometimes push further and further onto the land, collapsing those seemingly untouchable boundaries and teaching us that it truly knows no bounds. It is unapologetic for the strength it uses to take control of the land. It reminds us that it is raging and wild, one of the few things that man cannot tame and control no matter how many times he tries. It is out of our reach, too strong to be held down and too light to chase after, free of pain and worry, just at peace.
Yet, I found the ocean intimidating. Deep endless blue for thousands of miles, too strong to be held down, truly having no bounds. It was scary and mysterious. If I swam, what would pull me down? The pile of self-doubting dark thoughts sitting heavy in my head? Or whatever hid deep underneath, under the foamy white waves, past the murky green water, where the ocean is truly blue? But I wasn’t just scared of what could’ve physically happened to me. I wondered what the silence would do, what the freedom would do. Would it get to me? Would I ever come back to the shore? Or would I live amongst the mystery of whatever lived deep underneath? Who would it make me? Or what would it turn me into? I was scared of how powerful the ocean was, how vast and glorious, how dark and mysterious it was. These thoughts flood my mind often, slowly drowning me in curiosity and fear.
But this curiosity and fear that the ocean brought me only made it more enticing. It was the good kind of fear, the kind that leaves you with a slightly faster heart beat and a tiny pit in your stomach and a smile on your face. It’s a fear that leaves you wanting more, where you forever seek it and chase after it. And I did. I spent my time at beaches, staring at the water, wanting to go deeper and deeper but stopping myself. I spent it at pools in the deep end, trying to swim to the bottom until the force of the water pushed me back up. But nothing gave me the same feeling as the thought of swimming under the plastic rope in the dark blue ocean.
I swim past the rope into a sea of meaning that holds stories and dreams and souls bigger than my own. Beyond this rope, I could gain strength, unapologetically crashing through my boundaries onto undiscovered land. I could be as mysterious, sharing parts of me with only myself, as independent and happy being alone, as stubborn and uncontrollable, and mostly, as beautiful.
MiC Columnist Roshni Mohan can be contacted at email@example.com