Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Beach















The Sun, http://www.thesunmagazine.org/ is a journal full of beautiful writing and photography that I have recently rediscovered. Every month they have a section called Readers Write in which readers write very short essays about some assigned topic. I noticed at the bottom of the section that anyone can send in a piece for consideration and possible publication. I felt moved to begin writing on the subjects as another writing exercise. And, it just makes sense for me to go ahead and send it in. Who knows what might happen? So, below is my offering for the subject of The Beach.

I was five years old the first time that I saw the ocean. My family had driven cross country from our tiny town in the southeast corner of Kansas to Los Angeles, California. All that I can remember of that first sight is the image of a shipwreck that lay just off the beach. I would guess that this was supposed to be pleasantly interesting or even a tourist attraction, but for me it was the most terrifying sight that I had ever seen. One end of the ship had sunk below the water while the other rose up out of the sea like a hulking rusted skeleton. The terror of the possibilities of what might lay beneath the water was even more awful than the sight of the discolored metal against the summer sky. Could there be anything worse than being held under the water forever? I remember the clench of fear in my belly and the rubber feeling in my legs. Already it was too late. For me the ocean would never be a place of simple pleasure or easy relaxation. Instead, it would always be something that I had to protect myself against. All subsequent experiences of the beauty and grandeur of the ocean have been colored by the lens of that first glimpse of its ferocity and the finality of its judgments against the weak.

I have visited the ocean many times since. We even have a vacation home on the Oregon coast where I sit and gaze at the pounding waves. But I never venture out onto the water, preferring instead the safety of the beach.

Just a note: I tried to look at pictures of shipwrecks to illustrate this blog but they created such a sense of panic in me that I just couldn't post it.




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1 comment:

Nichol said...

I had no idea you had this fear of the ocean. I wish you could see the peace and beauty.
This writing is beautiful and clear and so full of emotion.
Keep me posted on what happens!