Saturday, October 29, 2011

Self Importance and the Sea

I've Been to Sea Before (M.A. Reilly, on linen, 2/2011)
Whenever self importance starts creeping into my locutions, I know it's time to head to the sea.

It's a powerful reminder of my very, very small place in this world.  I spent part of August just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. I visited there most mornings early enough to watch the sun color the water, sand, sky; chat with a few of the local fishermen, and returned once late enough to watch the moon rise.When I go to the sea, I often recall Kate Chopin's The Awakening. There she tells us:
"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace."
I read that novel on a day when the high school where I taught English was closed due to blizzard-like snow, a snow that fell heavy through the day, with fierce winds shifting the landscape from known to not. I was 28. And perhaps that's what I appreciate about the sea as well: the bigness of it reinforces all I cannot see while looking.  I lived in the country then, dried my clothes on a line strung between two trees and counted myself blessed when $14.97 remained in my savings by the end of the summer--the very first one that I had not worked. I lived on so little then.

I go to the sea to balance the trappings of acquisition.  Now there is a clutter to my life that I am working through, ridding myself of things a little at a time. Two years ago Rob and I cut up each and every credit card we had acquired and now we live within our means.  The experience and practice at this has allowed me to see all of the stuff I have acquired that frankly, I simply do not need.  It's a bit embarrassing when I take stock of all the unnecessary things with which I filled my life and compare that with how most on this planet live.

I wonder about the relationship between acquisition and self importance.

I go to the sea to feel. I go to hold momentarily the juxtaposition of faith and sound; mass and grace.  I think of this as I stare out the window and see that today it is snowing--a sea of white. Late October and the whiteness is falling, foregrounding the spaces between trees, still heavy with leaves, allowing me to notice distance in ways I simply would not see without the falling snow.

Nature shifts our sight.  Everywhere there are reminders that how I see, come to name and know shifts alongside the slant of landscape.

10.29.11, M.A. Reilly

10.29.11, M.A. Reilly


  1. Beautiful would not do justice to this post. But words are what they are...
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Cristina, thank you so much. A few things I am thinking about lately.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.