I love water. I love rivers, I love lakes. I love the ocean. Lots of reasons. They are constantly moving, they are constantly changing, they are always the same. The water may change but the ocean remains. I love touching the barnacles and the tubers. I love climbing over the rocks and the wood that has washed up on the shore. I love whatever the shore is, whether it is delicate sand, sharp rocks or millions of pebbles.
I have always loved the ocean. I first met the ocean in 1996, when I went to California for the first time. I walked in, fully dressed, and got knocked over by the waves (this happened again, many times, most recently in 2018). Since that first trip, I have visited the ocean in Hawaii, Greece, Victoria, Halifax, and Scotland.
Not long ago I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which was *amazing*. It had a quote that really struck me. Actually it had a lot of parts that stood out to me, but at this exact moment, it is this specific one: “The dunes are changed by the wind, but the desert never changes”. I feel the same about the ocean.
I grew up in a city in the prairies. As an adult, I moved to a city near the mountains. I loved the mountains too. I loved climbing them, I loved exploring. I loved running up them, with all the challenges associated with that: elevation, oxygen, incline. The mountains were always a trial, like they were an active competitor. I felt like I was there in both respect and defiance.
However, I wasn’t there to find peace. The test that was the mountain side was to push myself higher. To look across the valleys below and see how high I had run while simultaneously looking up at the peaks and knowing I could see only a fraction of their magnitude.
The ocean is different. The ocean offers peace. The ocean offers solitude. The ocean shows me its own movement and rhythm. I can run alongside or towards it, but the ocean ultimately has power, distance and depth. When I stand on a beach and look out across the ocean, I know that there are depths that haven’t been identified.
Both mountains and oceans are reminders of how absolutely magnificent the world is. It can be challenging but there is also peace. We are all very small compared to the peaks and the waves.
Each day for me, with epilepsy, is a different experience. Some days there is peace. Some days it is a challenge. Some days I am very small in comparison to my condition and sometimes there is no height or distance I can’t conquer. Whether I feel adversarial towards my epilepsy or whether it I am accepting it fully as a part of me, the reality is that it is as ever changing as the ocean and as daunting as any mountain peak. Whatever it is, it’s still about respect, defiance, depth, and peace.
As a final quick addition to this post, I want to point out how much both mountains and oceans are vulnerable and in danger. On a large scale, I may have no impact. On a small scale, however, I can definitely help. I put a couple of biodegradable bags in my running backpack or pouch to pick up garbage either on the mountain paths or along the beach so I can throw or recycle them later. It may be a super small action, but it’s worthwhile to see how easy it is to help out when the mountains and ocean have offered so much to me. Registering in races like the Banff Marathon (which is 100% waste diversion and the “Greenest Marathon on Earth”) supports large scale events to work towards their own green goals and contributions. Let’s help heal our world.