Against the Tide
After one fights the tide and sees themselves through the storm, they will notice that even the ocean plummets and crashes - but it always leaps back up again, retreats in on itself, gathers its strength and tries again.
As I make my way down the narrow path that leads to the sea, walking gingerly in my bare feet, I can taste the saltiness of the air on my tongue. Tall dune grass whips in the breeze against my legs and I feel my heart start to race as my ears pick up the roar of the ocean. Fragile fragments of washed up shells litter the ground and I feel them break apart under my feet. Coming to the end of the path and the beginning of the beach, I stop and close my eyes against the bright sun. Tipping my head back so that I can feel the warmth on my face. Breathing in deeply, filling my lungs with the air of the sea. Only when I feel my shoulders start to loosen, do I open my eyes and take in the cove. Sea gulls shriek as they fly by, swooping down to kiss the ocean and then blazing upwards over rocky cliffs that form the sides of the sheltered cove. I envy the gulls their freedom. My shoes fall from my fingertips to the sand as my feet guide me into the waiting ocean.
Tide is coming in.
Off in the distance, storm clouds gather; dark, fierce and menacing in their approach. The increasing power of the tide, a clear indication of what is to come. Though the sun warms my face now, it is clear that it will be short lived. I am fine with that. I have weathered worse storms. Walking further into the ocean I stop when it reaches my knees; my skin prickles at the sudden plunge into the cold water. My feet sink down in the sandy bottom as the ocean comes forward and pulls away from me. Each wave that flows around my legs seems to have a bit more power than the one before. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the waves grow bigger and bigger, until they reach the cuff of my shorts. Still I stand, simply allowing the power of the ocean to surround me. A shift in the breeze whips my hair off my head and suddenly the metallic smell of the approaching storm mixes with the briny smell of the ocean and the waves grow even more powerful. I square my shoulders and walk further into the sea until the waves reach my waist. The force of the ocean keeps trying to push me back towards the shore.
This isn't the first time I went against something powerful that tried to force what direction I went in. Wasn't the first time I didn't go with the flow and take the easy route to shore either. In fact, most of my life has been spent swimming against the tide, facing storms, and refusing to change who I was in order to have an easier life. Sure, it would be easier to let the power of the tide dictate what direction I must go. But I wouldn't be who I am if I allowed it. It may batter me. It may knock me down to murky depths. I may float for a while to gather strength. I may just swim parallel along the shore line until I figure out what I want to do. The salt may hurl insults into my wounds causing them to sting and my eyes may burn with tears. But, I will still refuse to back down. Today, I almost dare the ocean to try and force me to shore. Walking further out until I feel that spark of life in my soul ignite. The ocean and life interwoven in my mind - both often leave you battered and breathless. Hopeless and cast away. But never doubt for a minute that while you can't control either the ocean or life, you can choose the direction that you will go.
So, I go against the tide.
Hurts like hell sometimes and can be so lonely too. But as I grew older I realized something - it had made me stronger and had taught me that being my own person, regardless of what others may think of me, is in fact, while hard at times, the most amazing accomplishment one can make.
It made me free.
When you stand strong in the face of adversity, when you face life head on and instead of hiding from it you confront it, you have no other choice but to become stronger. More sure of yourself in a world that is doing it’s very best to make you follow along instead of doing your own thing. A world that is filled with people who will belittle you, mock you and shame you, for no other reason than because you are you. You will question yourself and begin to feel the world, like the power of the tide coming in, is simply trying to force you to conform and change against your will or drown you.
There will be days when allowing power of the tide to push you in the direction it wants you to go would simply just be easier. Why fight it? Why not just give in and let it all go? Why not just take the easy way? You tell yourself that you are too tired to go on, too broken, and too lost. The whole world seems to be against you and there is nowhere left to turn. Everything seems so hopeless that you just want to give up, your very being crying out to just-let-go. There is a moment, when you are at your very lowest, that you must make a crucial decision - do you harness the power of the tide or do you let it carry you away?
Standing there in the ocean in the face of the coming storm- I realize something. That with every wave I went through, every time I was knocked down and forced to swim back up to the surface with all my might and gasping for air, every time my eyes began to burn and my legs turned to jelly - I had made it because I fought the tide. The tide of loss, the tide of sadness, the tide of anger and the tide of hopelessness. It made me stronger than I ever thought possible and made me appreciate all the good so much more.
I learned a valuable lesson from the ocean...
There is an ebb and flow to life that is closer to the waves of the ocean than anything else. There are beautiful moments. Moments when the sun warms our face and the cry of the gulls warm our heart. Moments when all is right with the world. Then there will be moments of stormy and violent weather that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our hearts and minds. But after one fights the tide and sees themselves through the storm, they will notice that even the ocean plummets and crashes - but it always leaps back up again, retreats in on itself, gathers its strength and tries again. Over and over without fail.
All is not lost. Indeed, more is to gain when you learn to go inside of yourself to gather the strength you need to leap back up. It was there the whole time, you just needed the gentle reminder from the sea to remember.
10/6/2013 10:26:32 am
Oh, Jenn, you did such a great job describing the approach to the ocean. My late husband and I vacationed in Playa DelCarmen (south of Cancun) several times. You brought me right back to that little cove just north of Playa. Then, the more I read, you brought me back to right now, to the past 9 months without him. Swimming against the tide after the years with him just floating through the peace and calm of a happy marraige.
10/6/2013 11:14:46 am
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