Ninety four times I have walked to the beach. Each walk had ninety four different views and ninety four shades of green, blue and grey. There were ninety four different kinds of wave – height, speed, gradations between high tide and low, phases of the moon, temperature and wind direction. Each wave carried ninety four different thoughts and moods. Each thought had ninety four new possibilities.
It is 61 days since I started to collect these Tiny Oceans, 61 days and 61 jars. Over time their contents have settled. What started as cloudy water that looked a murky green brown has become clear, crystal clear. Sediment settles to the bottom, the process of gravity filtering the larger particles out from the water. I’ve woken at 6am, not with these thoughts, but with thoughts of plans and ideas I have had during these 61 days – of things I have thought I should do, could do, might do. These have been things influenced by others opinions, others expectations, their assumptions. And it occurs to me that in time this has settled also. I am left with a clarity of thought I did not have before the cloudiness was stirred up. The fog brought with fatigue makes this a slower process sometimes, filtering out the noise of the outside world – to listen, to see, with clarity. The grit of sand and small stones are clearer too, now that they have settled – the water is clearer and I can see them, I could count the grains if I chose. This is only possible in time, with the passing of time and the settling of sediment.
Twenty three days and I have collected twenty three tiny oceans. A small scoop of a wave each morning as I walk the coastline. It has been still and stormy, I’ve been at high tide and low. Every day is different and each view is the same.
I bend down trying not to get my feet wet, sometimes the jar fills quickly and easily – I find a groove in the stones that the water sits in after a wave. Sometimes I am bent over for ages, left with just foam, the water too quick for me to catch. The contents of the jar always starts cloudy, a bit murky and brown. Sand and stones are stirred up, fragments of what else creates the beach is caught with the salty water. On Wednesday it felt as though the whole world had been stirred as the tide continued to smack at the shore, clambering higher and higher across the prom.
In this short time I have learned that a loved one has cancer. In this short time I have lost my beloved cat. These jars show nothing of that. They are jars of memories. Water washes away and water dilutes. They are, for me, for now, a constant. A repetitive ritual to my day. If I do nothing else I will visit the sea and catch a wave, a fragment at least. I had anticipated working with the residue that is left. Today I am urged to replace their lids and keep them safe.
All of life can be seen in the therapy room, is the thing I think of in planning to write this post. It was not my intention and was not connected consciously with my plans when thinking about starting something new. Perhaps it is relevant. I am adding a process to my routine, my ritual of walking to the beach and looking at the sea. I usually take a photo on my phone. I usually look out for interesting things thrown out by the tide.
I want to work with salt, sea salt, so today I have collected a ‘tiny ocean’ in a glass jar. I plan to do this each time I visit. I will then wait. I will wait for the water to evaporate, to leave a trace of crystals like tea leaves at the bottom of the cup, and perhaps they will tell me something.
The ocean is our air, our atmosphere, our life. Perhaps studying tiny fragments (as is done in therapy) will throw up new things, in connecting and understanding. Tiny ocean no. 1: 0930 Thursday 18th October 2018