We often hear about love and hate. And there’s no denying the two are intertwined. For me though, there is no closer emotion to love than fear. Love, when it’s real, is terrifying. For a long time this was a concept that I felt, but couldn’t understand or explain. That is until I finally realized where I’d experienced it in its physical form.
Except the phrase “I love the ocean.” didn’t feel big enough. Deep enough. I don’t think I love it in the way most people do. It’s not a casual fling. Or passionate affair. I’m not a surfer who goes out at morning light. Or a fisherman. Or part of a family who loves snorkeling at their annual vacations. I love it with an endless fear. And from a safe distance.
You see, I was born on a small island. One hundred miles long, thirty five miles wide. An island where the residents simply call everything beyond it alla fuera “out there.” And before I’d ever been out there, what I remember most is how I felt near the ocean. How I'd stand there and relish in the idea that I was so small. And that something much bigger was beyond.
I’d stare out at how the edges of the world came together and seemed to meet in a perfect line. And how, even though I couldn’t see it, I knew it didn’t end there. But slowly, another realization would come. That there was nothing holding it back. And that, if it really wanted to, it could simply swallow me whole. I was terrified of it. And absolutely in love.
It’s standing at the edge of the ocean that I feel most at peace. Because it feels like standing at a supernatural dividing line. Like I could step in it and never come out. Like it could consume me. Slowly. Instantly. In any way that it chooses. And that same fear, that’s in the love I have for every person I hold dear. The fear that if I don’t stay back far enough, I could be consumed by them.
So I walk into the shallow end. Where the water is warm and the waves are gentle. And I whisper I love you. And I hope that this is enough. Because another step might be too far. Because the scales might tip from love to fear. And so when the world feels too much to bear, I want nothing more than to stand at the ocean’s edge.
And remember I’m alive.