Why are we drawn to the Ocean?
Earlier this week it crossed my mind that we are only 19 days into 2022 and I have already been to the beach 3 times. I should mention here, that I live a 30 minute drive from the coast. So I'm lucky enough that I can go to the sea basically whenever I want, but not so lucky that I can step straight out of my front door and onto the promenade! (if you can do this then I'm not jealous at all, honest!)
And as you're reading this then I'm guessing you're like me, and have a need to see the sea every few weeks. A need to hear the gentle sounds of waves lapping up onto the shore and to feel the sand beneath your feet.
For me, the ocean has been a creative topic that I've come back to over and over again. In GCSE art I explored the idea of mermaids and underwater worlds, and A Level Art saw me practising my watercolour skills to create paintings of Padstow in Cornwall. When I went to college and university to study art and my degree in Scale Model Making I further explored the sea theme, but this time creating 3 dimensional models of tsunamis, jellyfish, and underwater life. I was fascinated with replicating textures found on the coastline, and finding new ways to mimic water in my 3 dimensional work. Now of course, I make eco-conscious jewellery inspired by the beauty of the sea.
And I'm not alone! For centuries, Artists have flocked to places like St Ives in Cornwall to be inspired by its fishing-village charm and to soak up the sea in every season. The UK Coastline is full of creatives, artists and makers of all kinds who just love to be inspired by the sea.
I've already spoken to a few friends this year who say they've been to the sea at least once in January so far, and that it's kind of a New Year's Tradition for them (one that we also share in our household!)
Each of my coastal adventures so far this year has left me questioning "Why am I drawn here? What is it about the sea that's so special?" so I thought I'd explore that here, in a blog post!
Why are we so drawn to the sea?
1) Perhaps it's just biological? We know that the first signs of life on earth came from the sea, and its widely accepted that us humans evolved from sea creatures. So maybe we've always had a relationship with the sea, and a fascination with it?
Humans are 60% water, and our blood is 90% water, it seems almost obvious that we might be drawn back to the place we first came from, doesn't it? It's like coming home. Sometimes I wonder why humans are relatively hairless compared to some land-dwelling mammals (especially the great apes). Maybe we needed to keep our comparatively sleek skin for swimming in the seas that we came from?
2) The sea is what connects us all I often can't help but think about how vast the ocean is, and how it spreads across the globe. Yes, we have names for different 'sections' of the sea, but ultimately it's all one body of water, right? Imagine standing on the beach and dropping a message in a glass bottle into the ocean, it would be so fascinating to see where it turned up, but it would also prove how connected we are to each other.
The sea is what separates us all on this planet, but it's also what connects us to one another. And not only that, but I really think the sea connects us more and more to nature and to ourselves. There's just something so grounding about the power of the ocean.
Which leads me on to my next point...
3) The sea can put our worries into perspective Standing on a nearly deserted beach and looking out to sea can feel like we're staring out into the ends of the earth, or at least the ends of the known.
The coastline is somehow symbolic of where human meets nature, where the known meets the unknown.
I always think the sea has this incredible power to make us feel small. We get so wrapped up in it's awe that we feel just like tiny grains of sand on the beach, and in that state it's amazing how so many of our day-to-day worries can leave us.
Life has so many ups and downs, just like waves in the ocean. Sometimes it's hard to see over some of the bigger waves, but being by the sea and seeing its magnitude can make us realise how lucky we are to even be here at all.
4) The sea provides us with so much of what we need to survive Did you know that the sea provides us with well over half of our oxygen? And it absorbs 50 times more Carbon Dioxide than our atmosphere, which helps to regulate our climate. The sea also provides us with the food that we eat, not just in the form of seafood, but also ingredients used in other foods.
And lets not forget about medicine. Many medicinal ingredients used in medication for cancer, alzheimers and heart disease actually come from the ocean.
We also rely heavily upon the sea as an income source, and when you research revenue streams that come from the ocean, the figures are quite staggering. Apparently, the ocean contributes $70 trillion to global GDP every single year!!
It's no wonder that we feel so drawn to the sea, when we owe it so much!
5) The sea has positive effects on our wellbeing I think it's safe to say that so many of us find being by the sea to be restorative, relaxing, calming and just generally freeing.
In the last few years, scientific studies have shown us that viewing water can create positive reactions in our brain which improve our mood and also help up with mental fatigue and stress.
The sound of waves gently lapping up onto the shore can mimic our breathing, and so it's hard not to be drawn into a blissful moment of mindfulness when we're by the sea.
But equally, going to the beach in Midwinter and exposing ourselves to the wind, rain and stormy seas can be invigorating, and give us a greater sense of being alive.
I always think that the sea has emotions, just like we do. Some days it's calm, still and reflective. Some days it's angry, wild and free. There's something so freeing about that, about seeing nature respond to it's surroundings in the way us humans would. In that sense, the sea almost gives us permission to be human. To be raw, beautiful, perfect and flawed.
So as it turns out, there are actually so many reasons that us humans are drawn to the sea. And I bet the reasons are different for all of us. For some, the beach is a great place to spend family time because it offers something for adults and children alike.
For others, it offers a place of tranquility, or somewhere to do extreme sports. It may be one person's livelihood and another's artistic inspiration.....If I've learned anything from writing this post, it's that the sea has an awful lot to offer.
For me, the sea is a huge inspiration to my work (which you can check out here) but also a place of calm and connection. A place to explore nature at it's best and think about the lessons we could learn from it.
So finally, I'd love to know why you are drawn to the sea? How do you feel when you're by the ocean? Let me know in the comments below, it's so fascinating to learn what the sea means to each of us.
P.S, If you'd like to check out my sea inspired jewellery, you can find it at www.gemmatremayne.com
And, for more creative musings, early access to new designs, my inspiration, beautiful nature images, notes on eco-consciousness, musings on mindful living and of course helpful jewellery tips and tricks. I'd love to invite you to join my Email Friends I promise my email letters will always be inspiring and informative!
I live 20mins walk from The North Sea. I live on the the NE coast of England in South Shields. My favourite part of the beach is Marsden beach which has a giant rock called Marsden rock that was once many years ago attached to the cliffs and the land beyond but has slowly eroded.
I have been attracted to the sea for some years now. It began as a healing place after a mental health breakdown. It became a place to think and forget my worries too. I like the feeling of being small surrounded by cliffs and waves, I like to watch the sea birds go about their lives making patterns in the sky and on the water. These things give me a perspective on my life. I can see a problem as not so big after all and so I can work through it.
I mostly go to the beach to breathe the air, smell the salt, feel a splash of a wave on my legs or feet and this invigorates me. I can get lost in the beauty of a wave, watching it form and roll and settle on the sand, every wave is unique. Lastly I love the colours from sunrise to sunset, stormy greys and twinkling summer seas that look like jewels bobbing on the waves. I also like to beachcomb for sea glass and pottery. There is a mystery and a story coming from the sea, in the shape of a patterned piece of pottery or coloured, smooth piece of glass.
Over the years I have taken hundreds of photographs of the sea and the beach. I also paint watercolours of the sea and Marsden Rock. The sea inspires me.
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Gemma Tremayne Jewellery
February 11, 2022
Ahhhh Lesley, I absolutely adore your comment! What a wonderful place to live :-) I’m down in Suffolk and have never ventured up to South Shields, but I must! Your description of why you love the sea is beautiful, and I totally agree. I took look to nature whenever my mental health get’s tough, and I find it so rewarding…I’d love to see your watercolours :-)