Written and photographed by Joe Guastella

Listening to the living sea
Utter, with flailing tongues
Of foam and froth,
The first syllable, from which
Springs all thought, all words.
Om, her ceaseless chant
Rattles my very bones.

There seems to be a sense of purpose in life at the edge of the sea. The movement of the tides, the sun, the moon, the seasons, is simple, predictable. There is a structure to the cycle of days that is comforting.

On a grey morning of moving clouds and east wind, I found myself seated on the sand, facing the ocean engulfed in the simplicity of nature, my back turned to the civilized world. The incoming tide brought a hint of the power of the elemental forces to which I was a witness. I was drawn toward a different sense of awareness, yet one that I could not attain; where the power of the sun, the pull of the moon by which those tides are created might become more familiar.

But more immediate and tangible to my eyes was the sight of the vague horizon; a place of welcome where sea and sky converge in the fog that imagination loves so well; the ether where ideas form, where they can run fast and free. It is a feast for the mind where dreams sit at the table with history and folklore. There are stories rooted in science, in mythology, in ancient writings passed down, reaching our eyes and ears today. They mingle with clues salted away in our consciousness, a part of the very makeup of our blood, connecting us to the first life forms that came from the sea.

In the cloud-dappled sky above the dunes, a drift of beach plum blossoms takes form in the blue. Where might it take us? …Across the thousands of miles to the east, beyond the bounds of the mighty Atlantic where lies the cradle of civilization on the continent of Africa. From there, ages ago, our collective ancestors traveled both west and east, stopping in fertile river valleys — always near water — to live and flourish, crossing rivers and oceans to faraway lands.

All these places were transformed. They became lands of hunters, farmers, poets and playwrights, mathematicians, thinkers and builders, craftsmen, storytellers, saints and druids, explorers, dreamers, fairies, and mythical creatures of the land, sea, sky, and night. One can live for a good while within those stories, sailing on toward our own horizons of hope. These ancient ancestors brought our collective past across the seas to reach us here, seated on the edge of the world.

There is a rhythm to the waves as familiar as the rhythm of one’s own breath; or the regular, recurring pound of the surf as it echoes the promise and beat of one’s own heart. So, join for a while, nurture your sense of wonder, become part of the sea — the source of all life on Earth.

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