I pull into the parking space, and sit in the quiet of the car. I wonder what that noise could be. Opening the door answers that question. It is the ocean. I can’t see it, but I can hear it. Loud. Angry. Incessant.
Gritty sand crunches between my shoes and wood as I walk down the boardwalk, the wind blowing stiffly in my face brings a scent I have looked forward to. The scent of the Atlantic Ocean.
A younger man precedes me down the walkway, walking with purpose. I wonder if he is meeting somebody, maybe he is late, he’s moving like he has a purpose. He walks down to a small gap in the sea grass at the edge of the beach, sits down and stretches out. Everything about him now says he is home. His eyes scan the waves, taking in the violent beauty.
The waves are feeding on themselves. One thundering into shore only to be met by the previous wave coming back, undercutting it, pulling it’s aggressive power out from underneath it. Then, the first wave finally gives up it’s attack on the sand and turns to undercut the next wave as it retreats. The ocean nearly boils at times, the dark emerald green hard to perceive through the thick layer of white foam.
And there is Nate, a part of it more than spectator. The wind moves his hair, but the air of peace and contentment stays about him, refusing to move in the wind.
He grew up close to this place. Spent many days here with friends, surf boards, sand, and the waves. He spoke of the rip tide, and how it would suck the very life energy from you if you tried to do battle with it, only by cooperating with it’s power could you escape it’s grasp.
He reminisces about days like this – when the waves were crashing too close to shore, spoke vaguely of the pain it could cause, remotely of the people he had seen hurt.
He attends school now near Orlando, an hour’s drive away, but most days that’s an eternity. He doesn’t make it back to this beach nearly enough he said. Today was a good day. He had time. Time to sit, and think, and scan the waves looking for the one he would ride, if he were in the foam.
He is majoring in history. We talk conversationally about wars, and the information and misinformation we have access to in this time. We wonder out-loud what part of the data that blows in from the digital sea we could believe. We wonder if those in power really are as sinister as their actions sometimes make them appear.
And then we get to it. To the thought that hangs in this conversation – in this place of violence and beauty. We both wonder aloud why there are men so focused on the acquisition of power – and what would the world be like if we could just sit on that beach and look for waves we might ride, if we were in the foam.
Then I leave him with his thoughts. Both of us hoping for a better time to come.
It has been pointed out to me that the ocean pictured really isn’t that angry of an ocean, and that waves and storms get much bigger at other times and in other parts of the world.
I get that – and I admit I’m a total ocean rookie. I’ve been a few times in my life to several beaches, but they have always been pleasant days with gentle undulating waves.
What I’ve portrayed here is more the emotion I felt at what the waves were doing. Waiting until the last minute to break and then undercutting the power of the next wave is the motion that impressed me. The fact that the ocean was turning on itself, impeding it’s own progress seemed to stand out to me that day.
I’m certainly open to any invitation you may have on what time of year and what part of the world to be in to see a truly awesomely angry ocean. When I come, please be prepared with a story or two, and a couple of your friends I could meet while I’m there.