The soft beach sand jiggles and sinks under my wiggling toes. I watch with anxious eyes as a small crab scuttles into the oncoming tide, leaving intricate small patterns along the sparkling shoreline. A wave slowly creeps up the beach, and suddenly, like a hawk snatching its prey, the water sweeps the crab away, leaving nothing but smooth, clean sand. Not a single scuttle mark remains. Wiped. Erased, I thought. That’s what the terrifying ocean waves do. They clear away all the beautiful things. Just like the world. We build, we create, we dream--but right as we start getting somewhere, everything is torn down, reduced to nothing. Just like the clear patch of sand before my very eyes.
But as I look up into the horizon, where the sun reflects off the surface of water like glittering jewels, I can’t help but feel a pull, an urge to step into deeper water. They say that all we fear is really the unknown--but surely the unknown can become the known?
With one last fleeting look at the sand and trees behind me, I stand up and walk toward the sea. As the first wave washes over my feet, I shiver at the lingering chill in my toes. I take one step. And then another. And then another. Eventually the water reaches up to my knees, and then my waist. I flinch when something cold and soft brushes against my hip--but it’s only seaweed. As I make my way even farther out, the waves grow higher and stronger. Every few seconds I am pushed back by the force of the ocean, and the currents underwater tug at my ankles, threatening to pull me under. But I keep going.
The moment I turn my head around to look again at the shore, I feel something cold and heavy crash down upon my head and shoulders. Instantly, panic engulfs me. I can’t breathe. My hands and feet feel trapped under an icy invisible force. My heart races, tingles shoot down my arms and legs, an iron fist claws at my lungs… I feel myself succumbing to the ocean, to the unknown.
All of a sudden, everything around me goes still. The roaring echo of crashing waves gradually softens, and my icy panic slowly subsides. The cold that had previously felt like piercing needles is reduced to a cool, calming sensation. Cautiously, I open my eyes.
At first, all is blurry. Then slowly, as I blink a few times underwater, my vision clears. Awe spreads throughout my body as I take in my surroundings. The clear, white sand drifts sleepily around my feet. Small, colorful shells lay scattered across the seafloor like daisies in a meadow; and when I look carefully, I can make out miniscule fish scurrying about the hovering pieces of algae. Rays of sunshine that peek through the surface cocoon me in a warm, glowing blanket of currents, and the water above my head sparkles and ripples. The ocean surrounding me seems to be pulsating, and my body sways back and forth as more waves pass overhead.
A subtle contracting sensation in my chest reminds me that I’m running out of air, and I take a deep breath as my head breaks the surface of the sea. Turning away from the horizon, I rest myself on top of the waves and allow the currents to carry me back to shore.
As I amble away from the beach, the soft sand below my feet roughens and solidifies into grass and concrete. A grin inches across my face as I recall the breathtaking experience from earlier. For so long, the crashing waves of the sea terrified me. The ocean was my unknown--but once I pushed myself to go deeper, to look under the surface, it wasn’t terrifying at all. In fact, it was mesmerizing--for waves may seem to destroy charming things in the sand; but deep down, something even more beautiful lies within.