THE CALL OF THE SEA: AN ESSAY ON WHY HUMANS LOVE THE OCEAN

“How inappropriate it is to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” Arthur C Clarke

Seven oceans for seven continents. A vast network of water that holds the Earth together, ensuring that every path leads us back to the shore. While the deep blue sea remains unknown, and perhaps it will always be unknowable, the coast and all it offers us has long drawn humans to it. From the ritual of easy, slow summer days spent at the beach to invigorating fall walks, the sea calls us home with its profound, immersive peace.

Tides roll in and out in perfect rhythm, speaking to every one of our senses. The smell and taste of salt on our tongues, the waves sing in ebbs and flows, and the familiarity of waves caressing our feet as we stand at the shore – the coast offers us an experience that has as many depths as the water itself. Over our lives, we build this from our personal memories alongside a more innate human nature that understands the power of the sea.

the call of the sea

Humans have always sought to be beside water

Our lives depend upon the sea. We are water – mostly. By adulthood we are 60 percent, meaning that taken as a whole, humans are almost the same density as the sea. It’s why we can float!

Yet, of course, there are more practical reasons for why civilization started at the coast. Currently, around three billion people depend upon the sea for their livelihood. The water provides, and without body’s of water, there is simply no life. It is our most valuable resource, providing food, 50 percent of our oxygen, removing carbon from the atmosphere, and regulating the planet’s climate. It’s no wonder, then, that we continue to explore and expand our relationship with it.

girl with feet in sandPhoto by Matthew Henry from Burst

Modern Mindfulness

The ocean is medicine too. So much so that scientists have begun to explore why we respond to it so positively. Each year, millions of people factor the presence of a beach into their holiday choices, an instinctive need to be beside the sea. It’s so easy to find ourselves reflected in the water. We can lay down on the beach, our toes sandy and our eyes closed, listening to the gentle hush of an ebbing and flowing tide. Or we can swim out and ride the waves back atop a surfboard, giddy with the possibilities. Each of these is a sensory awakening, made all the more potent for demanding we stay in the mindful present.  

Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Minds, says, “We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.” That connection is the key to why humans respond so enthusiastically to the coast, subconsciously reminding us that we all share a natural connection. Whether it’s the brown-grey of the North Sea or the sparkling azure of the Maldives, each wave in and out is as powerful as inhaling and exhaling; true calm and clarity to counter our busy minds.

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson

woman swimming in oceanPhoto by Carles Rabada on Unsplash

Into the water

There are few natural experiences as empowering as stepping into the sea. Wild swimming allows us to embrace inner strength and bravery in the face of the unknown while permitting ourselves to accept our vulnerability. We don’t fight the power of the ocean; we drift with it, simultaneously aware of the risk and reward. Embracing the restorative and rejuvenating practice of communing with the waves themselves is a path to nurture, self-care, and exhilaration. 

coastal decoratingPhoto (right) ©Mental Art

The enduring influence of the coast in design

It’s of no surprise, then, that season after season, no design trend appears in magazines, stores, and homes as much as coastal living. From quaint seaside to natural minimalism, it is relaxed, comforting, and refreshing. Characterized best by natural coastal colors – blue, green, white, and tan are often the foundations – the resulting look is casual and sophisticated. In balancing the fantastic textures of natural coastal materials, such as wood, shell, sponge, and pebble, with materials like jute, cotton, and rattan, coastal-inspired design does something rather special. Creating such a tactile experience mirrors the personal ceremony we go through at the water’s edge; its light airiness embodies the freedom of water, and the ruggedness of natural materials pulls together its strength.

affina sea inspired bath towelsAffina was conceived on the shore while beachcombing for shells. Seaweaves, our premier organic towel collection, is inspired by the natural patterns that call us back to the sea and designed to bring a little bit of nature’s restoration home. Shop the entire Affina towel collection here.

Coastal Living, Coastal Decor, Living by the Sea, Wellness Living