Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ocean Deep

There is something about the ocean that draws me. The vastness of it maybe. The fact that it is, to a great extent, unexplored. That there are still mysteries in it. That it sustains life, and takes it. That it is beautiful and serene at times, and other times uncontrollably powerful.

Right after my husband and I started dating, he drove me from Texas to California to see the Pacific Ocean. He had grown up there, and I, on the east coast. As we sat the first night on huge boulders along the shore in Monterey, listening to the waves crashing and watching the sun set, he said, "I always come out here when life seems confusing or too big for me. It all makes sense here."

It's that way for me too.

I'm not near an ocean, now, but I could really use one. Instead, I turn to something else that settles my soul: beautiful words. I love reading books of all kinds, and heaven knows these days the lyricism and beauty of words is pushed aside for breakneck plots and over-the-top characters. Not that I don't love those books: they are so entertaining and easy to get wrapped up in. And they fit my dwindling attention span as my eyes can race over the words at top speeds.

But beautiful words, poetic use of language, is harder to find these days, and harder to pay attention to. It takes slowing down and taking in each word and holding the thoughts close and pondering them. Appreciating complex grammar and imagery.

True, beautiful literature is like my balm, sometimes, and so, last night when life seemed loud and overwhelming and the depression I've fought off closing in, I went to my library and pulled a book off the shelf. One I've been meaning to read for a long time but seemed too daunting to try in the tornado that is my life.

Moby Dick.

And in the first paragraph I felt like it was about me:

"I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before the coffin warehouses...I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can... There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feeling towards the ocean with me."

It is a damp, drizzly November in my soul. But as I cannot go to sea, instead I go to book, and feel the beautiful balm of words rock me to peace.


  1. Beautiful, just beautiful.

    You needed that.

  2. As you talked about beautiful words, and poetic use of language, I thought of those types of passages as waves, rolling in on the sea, comforting. Then I got to your last sentence and saw that you did, too. Nice post.