Unlike Perseus, I knew both my mother and father. Or at least I thought I did growing up. They certainly acted as if I were theirs. Though while I'm pretty sure both were mortal, I have a sneaking suspicion my consciousness did not emanate from them. And I think the sea had something to do with my character-building.
The sea's role in my life had to do with rocking me asleep and awake. A deep floating sensation has always pervaded my comfort. Somehow when the light of day opened my eyes, I felt out of time and place. It was pure sensation and some of it came from feeling older than infant. Much like a deja vu moment where all seemed vaguely familiar, though odd and unreal at the same time. What I felt most familiar was water. I felt this aquatic sensation for much of my first 14 years. Today it matters not when, where or how I happened upon some sandy or rocky seashore. What is important to me is my lifelong relationship with the sea.
I grew up near the water in Maryland. I somehow recollect feeling the sea air fill my lungs, the salty brine wet my thirsty lips, the winedark waves rock me asleep, the warm waters swaddle and comfort my body. I can even recall the sunlight's warmth opening and closing my eyelids. Then a gentle breeze someway opened my wonderment an curiosity. Ah, passing thought just passed through me....Isn't it odd how can a waking moment be so alike to a drowning/dying one! Are life and death experiences similar? Maybe. Don't we all awaken when become the sea and light?
Our family's proximity to water became a problem for my parents. They often had to be extra vigilant whenever water was nearby. Whenever my parents couldn't locate me, I may have crawled near a water's edge. For example, during a Rehoboth Beach, DE vacation; I apparently had a tendency to wander towards the ocean. In ova Scotia as a 5 year old, my mother found me amidst the kelp covered rocks at a low tide. Yet my parents were unable to recognize my motives for my movement towards the sea. But they witnessed my love for water. Maybe they saw I was more comfortable with ocean motion than with crawling or walking on land. My parent's challenge was holding on to me near the sea where I felt most free. They eventually introduced sailing to me. It is there where I felt most freed - I thank them to this day for that gift. Floating on wind and waves - nothing more freeing!
As a youth, sailing captured my spirit and opened my soul to Nature's wonders. Truth be told, sailing became my teacher, my friend and companion. Nature and nurture helped build my character. Yes, I should take some credit, as I grew from what I knew. But let's give credit its due. Isn't it true that every person evolves from their influences, their environment, their surroundings. Nature or nurture? Don't both form and affect our values and senses?
The sea has a unique way of revealing our being, our truth. I think it is because there is no pretense in Nature. Everything is honest and real. No pretense. So one can either face all of one's foibles, faults and feelings.
Sailing a sea whether subtly, slowly or suddenly invariably opens seafarers to whom we are. It does not hide or hold back character. Heads, hearts and especially stomachs come alive at sea. No one escapes this "coming out party" And for many, if they become immersed in the experience, it changes the way they view life. Living on the water certainly has a unique way of moving people closer to their true selves. It is rare that someone goes to sea to find themselves, but this is what happens if you start to breath the fresh air and the open and endless seas. whether we aim to understand who we really are or not. The sea has waves and ways of unsealing us from the confines of our thoughts.
The sea, like any powerful relationship, accepts us for who were are. Some may say the sea loves us unconditionally....no judgments or assumptions or expectations. The sea can be seen as welcoming man and woman to experience what it means to be alive - what it means to be human.
The sea can be seen as formidable, foreboding and forbidding. Some say the sea shows us our way. But is this because we make the sea what we want it to be or what we want to see? Is the sea really who or what we think it is?
Can humans actually understand the sea without expressing or labeling it in human terms? Mankind's obsession with designing, structuring and controlling its world is in many ways as impressively necessary as arguably unfortunate. Because like in any meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships growth when two listen and learn from each other.
Man and woman as a couple never survive and thrive unless each respects the other. If one tries to overpower the other, the relationship will die. If one characterizes the other in its own terms, the consequences can be catastrophic. The more and more humans tend to define everything in their own terms, the less open they will always be to understanding. How can any two understand and love when they don't... or can't.... listen, hear and respond to each other?
Whenever humans characterize and humanize a boat, nature, a pet, a city, the sea, a god or anything, they want to see themselves within others. The irony is that the more humans search for themselves in others, the more they lose themselves. And it is also ironic that finding oneself in our surrounding seas is an inward journey. If all human experience is defined in its own terms, mankind could easily become blind and deaf to what the sea is really saying. Sometimes humans fall into the blue hole - the abyss of wanting something to be different from reality.
For centuries humans have asked these existential questions. And for centuries the answers still evade many. Ever since showed up on earth, they have imagined the sea. And in so doing characterized it. Some may say humanized it. Giving its own personality, its own unique language, its own set of values and principles established long before man appeared. We find often find ourselves in relationship to the sea. The sea frequently provides us answers to these profound questions.
We personify the sea. When we speak of the ocean as he or she, do we think of as masculine or feminine? Does water have gender? Does the sea have a heart and mind of its own? Is the sea nature alone or in concert with other forces beyond our comprehension?
If the sea has character, the sea certainly has personality. It has a nature, unlike human nature. But human creatures of habit, the sea behaves predictably. Some may even argue the seas have a temperament and temper - it may misbehave from time to time, at least from human perspective. Certainly is stirred up much like how human emotions stir human reaction. Some may say the sea has a mentality, but few give it credit for possessing mental capabilities or moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Few will argue against the sea's benefits, but few will give the sea too much credit because it lacks virtues: empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty. but its behavior habits. The sea is void of sins and vices - wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, but rarely do humans celebrate someone for an absence of evil.
Like all mortals born of woman, we children grow in a watered wombs for our first nine months. So it isn’t surprising that I too intuitively felt comfortable whenever the sea enveloped me. I instinctively understood it helped me breathe.