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From the Journals –– Free If By Sea.

AN-freeifbyseaEvery so often I think I should take the time to go through all my journals and transfer their contents into a Word or Pages document that I could then categorize and sort. From time to time, I even think there may be a book concealed in those handwritten volumes, and that the various pieces just need to be identified then shaped.

This wouldn’t be too daunting a task, I don’t think. Especially since not all my ‘journal’ entries are actually handwritten. For instance, I also have a series of passages located in a file called ‘Page a Day’. Most of the entries are from 2009… during a period when I was exploring a new approach to writing practice. 

For a set number of weeks, no matter what was going on, I committed to writing at least one page a day. No worries about the topic. No judgments about quality. No editing. Just whatever thoughts came my way. I call this particular entry ‘Free if by Sea’:

I am, these days, surrounded by land.

My mother, who did not leave Newfoundland for the first time until she was in her forties, and then only for relatively short trips, couldn’t imagine living away from the water. She said being landlocked would make her feel trapped. Claustrophobic. She needed the ocean, if not at her back door, within minutes of it. She grew up by the ocean, you see. And she lived by the ocean until she died.

Hers was an interesting observation: Trapped if by land; free if by sea.

In reality, being surrounded by land usually makes it easier to travel than being surrounded by ocean. The ocean leaves you just two options – boat or plane. Plane rides aren’t cheap, and boats aren’t a common form of travel any longer, so offer few possibilities. Land, as long as there are somewhat decent roadways, allows for relatively easy commutes.

And yet, her observation is one I can totally understand. The land, sometimes, is claustrophobic. And anyone who has grown up by the sea can likely appreciate the absolute freedom that is felt when you stand upon the shore and stare out over nothingness. Rooted to the shore though you may be, your heart and your soul travels with the birds, and along the crest of the waves… right to and beyond the horizon.

Thankfully, most days, I do not feel trapped as my mother would have living in landlocked central Canada, but I do appreciate what she meant. And some days I long for the infinite horizon that is unique to Newfoundland’s rocky coast… for deep blue, white-capped water that isn’t interrupted by land… for the smell of the ocean and the feel of its breeze… and for seagulls in their true habitats. Because…

I am a Newfoundlander.
Drawn to the sea…
Grounded in the rock…
Shaped by the wind… and the rain… and the fog…