On the shore

Like so many people, I often feel like I miss the sea. Walking down the beach the other day, I thought that most of the time what we miss is not so much the sea but the shore. Not so much diving or sailing but being in front of it. Not in the distance, not inside, just by the sea.

The sea is the main symbol for the unconscious, so I guess it connects with a deeper layer in our minds that is difficult to activate with anything else. We long for the sea like we long for unconscious realities of which we are half aware.

The shore is another example of human liminality. Another space where we are in between worlds. Between the logical ground and the luring yet scary sea. The more I live, the more I believe inbetweenness defines my life. We are the transition between those who came before us and those who will come after us. A necessary step without which there will be no continuation of our species. We are in between past and future and without us there will be no future. We are necessary, not individually but collectively.

I was reading a book recently about the inbetweenness of objects. How they represent a point of encounter between two civilisations or two cultures, two times, two persons. How they have come to belong neither to one or the other, and they now remain in between. I wonder whether this is the fate of the human mind, to remain in between the logical ego and the irrational unconscious. A permanent tension of opposites that constantly threatens to tear us apart. But it doesn’t.

Walking down the shore I think here I am, in the very middle between sea and mainland. A little foam after each wave marks the moving boundary. Innocent and yet so powerful. Rather than a separation it looks like an invitation. One foot in, one foot out, walking the blurry line of the shore.

And longing seizes you and the will for your own movement. You want to cross over from being to becoming, since you have recognized the breath of the sea, and its flowing, that leads you here and there without your ever adhering; you have also recognized its surge that bears you to alien shores and carries you back, and gargles you up and down.

Carl G. Jung, The Red Book

Why do we like the sea? We are dragged towards it, like a void, and we feel a strange calmness when we stand in front of it. As if we were in front of our old home, somehow. A womb we cannot logically recognise, but to which we feel an atavistic attachment. One of those primal bonds we don’t like to analyse. The appeal of chaos, in which we would like to swim freely while clinging to a safety rope just in case.

The sea is like music; it has all the dreams of the soul within itself and sounds them over. The beauty and grandeur of the sea consists in our being forced down into the fruitful bottomlands of our own psyches, where we confront and re-create ourselves in the animation of the “mournful wasteland of the sea”.

Carl G. Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

We finish our holidays, we go back to our cities, until one day, the Sea calls us back and we desperately need to answer its song and stand once again on the shore looking at its immensity.