I’ve never been a big fan of the sea, the ocean, the beach. I couldn’t swim so it felt silly to spend hours wallowing in the shallow end. One time I almost drowned and no one realized it or even cared when I told the story. I wouldn’t say I was traumatized by it.
Listen to the audio version of this article on Anchor now.
The sun was always too hot and tanning didn’t appeal to me. Almost every visit felt too crowded.
It was also a time to show off one’s body and a body to show off was never one I felt like I owned. I did usually have one of the most appealing cleavages, however, but I often felt uncomfortable with the attention it received to feel sufficient. The salt in the water also dried out my skin to a level of impoverished looking ashy I didn’t like. For a long time, getting my relaxed hair wet for what felt like nothing was, too not my thing.
The sea, the ocean, the beach was relaxing to listen to. Splash was my favorite sound. It was also undoubtedly fulfilling to watch the sun merge with its mirage when it sets or create its reflection at dawn.
When I got into a relationship, I hated it more just a little because my partner could swim. I felt like I was always holding us back from a grand adventure. I did hold us back. Imagine being in Maui and hanging out always by the bank while he explored depths words could hardly transcribe back to me. I could see unrefined joy lathering his aura.
He tried to teach me to swim, but my fear and dislike were long nestled into my personality. Even wearing a life vest couldn’t break my fear. I was partly convinced he’d break up with me for it. I laughed at myself because I asked for a man who would be adventurous and I couldn’t do my part by going on the adventure. I thought it couldn’t be worst until I discovered he loved going to the beach in the morning for a cold dip.
Then there was night beach. I don’t remember the first time I went to the beach when the sky lost its pigment, but I knew immediately that was the only way I wanted to beach (though I didn’t actually go in). The melodic constant splash beneath the web of stars soothed me on a spiritual level. The problem was I was the only one I knew who loved the beach at night. Instead of going myself, I resigned to listening to ocean waves tracks and wishing for full power outages.
At 3 something months postpartum, I went to the beach at night. I wasn’t expecting anything but to just enjoy it as I did eons ago. I was not expecting the ultimate tranquility.
In my days of deepest depression years before, the idea of feeling like I was nothing brought me malcontent. I desired significance on some scale to somebody in a meaningful way because that’s how I measured the meaning of my life: social co-dependency. Nothing felt sad, lonely, and a waste of a life. I didn’t want to be nothing.
This was the first time I felt peace with being nothing. The stars took over the sky and the ocean, the sea, the beach was all I could hear. I was both terrified and excited to go in, but I didn’t want to let fear stop me. I stayed near the shallow end and sat down.
Immediately I felt myself shrink to the size of an ant: unnoticed, unseen, nothing.
I felt like I was in the middle of the universe and my smallness humbled me in its vast womb.
I didn’t need to be any of the roles I’d taken on. I had no responsibilities for a moment, no care, no wonder, no goals.
I was lost, small, insignificant, nothing. It was not good or bad, it just was. It was peace, peace I’d never had before.
I didn’t want to leave, but my role of motherhood was very strong. I wasn’t done with life, but I was newly learning how to be done with trying to be anything but nothing which was inherently everything.