Water is my medium. It is the place where my heart not only beats, but sings and dances with natural rhythms and harmony.
As a kid, I was swimming before I could walk. My earliest memories live on the shores of Bethany Beach, Delaware, where I hunted seashells at dawn with my grandfather. The ocean was my first playground, a gritty and sensory space where I could build sand castles and learn about the beauty of high and low tides.
I share this personal vignette because it offers you a window into my innate self — a glimpse of where I learned how to observe; how to play; to explore; to travel; to find joy. It also happens to be directly connected to where I am at this very moment.
As I write this account, I am scouring through photographs, journal scribblings, poetry, scientific musings from a summer spent with hundreds of wild dolphins off the coast of Kona, Hawaii. I was led to these islands by a very particular calling. Something so deep, so primal, so mysterious — a shared calling experienced by all those who occupy this planet.
The ocean is where all life begins; it was, and will always be, our first home.
A few years ago, I read a book by a renown marine biologist that drastically altered my understanding of humans’ relationship with the sea. This work by Wallace Nichols, titled “Blue Mind,” has provided incredible scientific teachings based upon what happens to our minds and bodies in the presence of water.
1. “The Human body as a whole is almost the same density as water, which allows us to float.”
2. “As far back as the Ancient Egyptians, Indian, and Roman Civilizations, we have therapeutically immersed ourselves in water. The Ancient Greeks, who viewed many diseases as being caused by spiritual or moral pollution, incorporated cleansing with water as a key element in healing.”
3. “Water is the only element that relaxes and stimulates humans simultaneously.”
What I love about Nichols’ book is that it illustrates the science of how being near, in, on, or under water can make us happier, healthier, more connected, and more creative — this last part is my particular area of focus.
Upon reading Blue Mind, I began to reflect further on the application of his perspective into daily practice — a ritual that combines my love for the ocean with a conscious stoking of personal and creative exploration. Put simply, I meditate in the ocean every day on a paddle board to engage and enhance my creativity and mental state. I call this practice, “Sēfari.”
This photo is representative of my morning ritual. Spending time on the water gives me balance and enhances my spirit.
In July, I landed in Kona, Hawaii for a work-study. The incredible thing about this experience, which was grounded in meditation, is that it has been conducted in a wild environment, where nature creeps in freely. On any given morning, I am joined by pods of migrating dolphins and whales, a loner seal pup, and occasional pelicans on their morning breakfast adventures.
For obvious reasons, days where I am joined by wild animals at sea are my favorite. The dolphins in particular bring me a tremendous amount of joy.
My morning commute.
Even though dolphins are gentle creatures, when I come into shared contact with them, I understand fully that I am a visitor in their element. This experience is a case study in my own vulnerability, which is key to the development of my senses — such as trust. It’s in this interaction that I am able to shift my perception, engage my instincts, and co-exist in harmony with another creature. The dolphins have taught me how to balance in fluidity with grace and precision.
My relationship with Sperry is anchored in a shared love for the ocean… that much is clear. If I were to dive a little deeper into that shared connection, I recognize that it’s not only the appreciation for the sea that bonds us; it’s our personal stories about the sea as well as a universal respect for all of sea life.
Before I sign off (for the time being), I wanted to leave you all with a few suggestions derived from my personal experiences so you can continue to explore your own relationship with water and the sea.
Art: Doug Aitken: “Underwater Pavillions”
Podcast: Krista Tippett interviewing audio-bioligst, Katy Payne: “In the Presence of Elephants + Whales”
I hope you enjoy them.
Combatting ocean pollution means doing your part to move the needle. Every. Single. Day. Here, Sperry Ambassador Amanda Goad shares five ways you can do your part NOW.