Practice and reflection on the sea.
I spent the past several days with four friends sea kayaking the outer Washington coast, from Makah Bay to Shi Shi Beach and back. We were "rock gardening" +paddling in close to offshore rocks, exploring the ways the swell collides with land. The outer coast inspires a range of emotion for me; while there is no more beautiful place to be, the sea is powerful, impersonal, and there is always the element of unpredictability. Truly no environment changes more quickly.
In the same moment I will experience profound gratitude for the opportunity to exist out there while also secretly wishing to be back onshore or even in the car going home– places with a feeling of security.
The sea amplifies the fact of impermanence– change is the only constant. We hear this all the time and nod our heads: yes we know, we know. "Anything can happen child, anything can be..." to quote Shel Silverstein. But watching my own mind and where it runs to hide from the possibility of not knowing what will happen next, I recognize that it is our nature as humans to cling to what seems solid, to shut our eyes against the groundlessness of life. In Sanskrit this is called avidya which means ignorance, a misconception or confusion between the true nature of existence versus what appears in the mind.
And therein lies the practice and reflection: the practice of observing my mind as it longs to stay in the tent in the morning when I awake to the sound of the surf, thinking "I am safe here but not out there".
And reflection on the nature of reality– life is as unpredictable as the sea.