My six week nautical journey from Hawaii to France began on a Wednesday. The following day, I took my first step outside since leaving land-based living behind. I was not mentally prepared for what I saw. Nothing but blue, as far as the eye could see. Endless rows of waves, lined up like toy soldiers for miles upon miles, disappearing into the horizon. I never thought of nor could I even begin to fathom the ocean's sheer size until I found myself floating somewhere in its enormity.
I was scared of embarking on this journey; wary about going to sea, concerned by its unpredictable, sometimes inhospitable conditions. I worried that it would resent me for leaving it behind so many years ago. I had loved the sea as a child but our relationship had been a tumultuous one. I grew up spending Christmas holidays in Mexico and that is where the love affair with this monumental marvel began. I remember sensing its proximity towards the end of seemingly never-ending drives, when salt began to fill the air. Its intoxicating magnetism, hanging all around me, drawing me in. The anticipation parallel only to that of reuniting with a long lost best friend. And then that moment; the one where I finally caught sight of the turquoise waves breaking on the shore, as if gently asserting their dominance over the land. The one where I got to run into the tepid water for the first time in a year and immediately feel restored.
My cousins were too scared to come in the water so my uncle would take my hand and help me jump over each wave. I still remember the absolute elation; the fascination coursing through my veins as the tide tossed me back and forth, sometimes gently, sometimes violently. Some of my best childhood memories are of days spent becoming one with those Acapulco waves.
However, as I got older and lost that childlike sense of wonder, so too did I begin to forget about the sea and about the way it had once made me feel. So safe, so free, so alive. My trips to the ocean eventually turned into motionless days, lying on the beach, working on that perfect tan and sipping on piña coladas. I would still admire it from afar but would rarely go in; I had lost my affinity for it. Upon my Abuelo’s passing, the trips to the ocean stopped altogether. After that, unbeknownst to me, a subdued fear began brewing with each passing year that I did not immerse myself in its waters. Maybe it was too much shark week or news of village-destroying tsunamis and shipwrecks. It was as though my mind ceased to remember the joy it had brought me in my early years. Beautiful memories, selectively blocked out, tragically so.
I joined my second yacht in Honolulu. As I looked out the airplane window at the crystal blue waters oscillating below, a sense of purpose surged over me. I knew I had been sent there for a reason. It suddenly occurred to me that this was what I needed; to spend time in the surf capital of the world and to make this 6 week journey across not one, but two oceans to rekindle that waning flame. I can happily say that it has worked.
The very thought that I was going to be spending so much time in its presence subconsciously forced me to abolish every last ounce of reprehension and once again find peace in the crashing of waves. It took me a while to fester up the courage but I finally took up surfing; a lifelong dream that had gone unfulfilled due to said trepidation and apathy. It is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done. As I paddled out further away from the safety of land, my mind finally halted its unabating stream of thoughts. My worries dissipated and I was nowhere but in that very moment. Floating on that board, Diamond Head smiling at me from the shore, back amongst the waves, I knew I was home again.
This seemingly infinite thalassic power surging beneath me has re-awakened my soul and my love for the sea. It has brought me back to life. It has summoned the reality that I am but one infinitesimal being in this big wide universe, we call home. It has a way of reminding you how insignificant you are, how trivial your problems and worries are. I have been deeply humbled by its ways. The way it never tires of moving; its persistence in swaying back and forth, a carefully calculated rhythm. The complexity of the ecosystems hanging in a delicate balance beneath its surface. The way it creates and destroys life in the blink of an eye. The way it rocks you to sleep, ever so gently but in one fell swoop, could decide to draw you into its depths. I am completely enthralled by its unpredictability.
I think that’s what connected me to the ocean from a young age and what has brought me back after so many years. The notion that it understands me. The fact that it too, is in its nature entirely paradoxical and impulsive. It is steady, yet erratic. Boundless, yet conquerable. Nurturing, yet dangerous. Peaceful, yet fervent. It has reassured me that incongruity is a perfectly normal state of being and that I am not the only one afflicted with duality.
This long-lost love has unapologetically come heaving back into my life and reminded me of the effortlessness behind happiness. It has prompted memories of simpler days and has impelled me to return to that ingenuous time when I believed in magic and reveled, with sparkling eyes, at the beauty all around me. It has inspired me beyond words. It is forever a part of me. This time, I'm not letting go.
Middle of the Pacific, during a 6 week crossing aboard my 2nd yacht, April 2015.