January 28, 2023

We used to live in the desert, only knew our land with its dry sands and rough stones, the windswept dry bushes and, yes, the wind, the storm that drives the sand, time and again taking our sight, forcing us to close our eyes.

Every now and then we heard of a completely different world – the ocean they called it – boundless water. Of course we knew what water is, we knew the rare rain that evaporates again all too quickly in the brooding sun, we knew the deep holes from which we laboriously draw it. But vast boundless water? What is that, how is that, how can it be?

Some began to long for it. No one knew what it was, if it existed at all. Yet now we are on our way to find it, the ocean.

Sometimes we come across a small pond, and some dash off with excitement, stumbling in: we have found it, the ocean! They stomp like madmen in the rapidly forming dirty broth. Some even stay, with their elusive ocean, learn to wait until the mud has settled, the water is clear again. Small water, sometimes clear… we go on.

Then a large pond appears, fed by a thin trickle of clear water. Big trees, shade, happy life. Finally we have it, the ocean. Calmly, almost devoutly, we take a sip of this water, contemplate the pond with its fine ripples, its freshness. Arrived.

Some begin to wonder: far, limitless? Some set off again, through the desert, through the dry sand, the wind and the storms. And again and again the longing for the pond. Individuals return there. Others go crazy, lose their bearings, lose themselves.

Few only, we finally reach a ridge of hills, far ahead a great dark with fleeting white bands. An angry something, driven by the storm that also drives the sand, and yet…. here everything is different. Some rush ahead – the ocean! – plunge into the water, are caught by the surf, are pulled out and… unfamiliar with this new, so completely different element, and unable to recognize fast enough, to learn, they sink and disappear.

We are standing on the beach. Shocked. Mighty, this ocean. Dangerous. Awe arises. Few go into the water, carefully, deeper and deeper, without losing the ground under our feet. We learn to recognize the many faces of this new world – the raging storm, the calm mighty surf, the quiet breathing in the barely audible heaving and sinking – and we learn to swim. Some venture further out into the waves, getting to know the ocean more deeply, that size, that might,… and that lostness out there, even though I can still see the shore as a fine stripe. Some swim further and further out, return and set off again, some murmur that there is new, other land out there, others return no more.