The beach and the ocean have been my saviour for the past two weeks. Mired in a a winter that feels like it will never end, I have been nothing short of discouraged. Sunless days, ever-falling snow, cold and isolation, compound feelings of inadequacy, loneliness among others. Winter has always been a challenging time for me personally, especially when it comes to finding inspiration for my photography. But the beach and the ocean have been my saviour, calming nerves and allowing me to breathe deeply for the first time in a month.
As much as I love the beach, the smell of the salt air and the sound of waves crashing, every time I have gone to the beach in the last two weeks, I have had to force myself to go out. Luckily even in the rut I have been in, I can recognize that sometimes you have to make yourself do things you love to get out of said rut.
On these beach trips, the only thing I took with me is my phone. This served two purposes, 1) Music for a beach walk is a must, nothing beats tunes that speak to you while you're experiencing one of your favourite places and 2) I wanted to challenge myself to shoot only with my phone, learning how to capture great images with whatever you have on your person is an important skill to have as a photographer.
Seal Cove Sand Beach and the Anchorage Beach is where I've been frequenting, sadly my favourite beach, Deep Cove, is still pretty much inaccessible due to snow. Each time I have been completely alone on the beach, however even though I have been feeling isolated, there was something safe and comforting in the solitude I experienced on the sands of the beaches I walked. The environment that I surround myself with changes how I reflect on things, the way that I process my thoughts and feelings. Being alone in the great wide open, makes me feel like I have the space I need to explore whatever is going on in my head and my heart.
There are a few things that set a beach on the ocean apart from those that are not. For me the one that sticks out the most is the tide. The tide brings with it change, it washes things upon the shore that have been adrift, and it takes things away with it, relocating them to a completely different place in the world.
A lot happens on the beach. Dogs running free, children splashing in the ocean, bonfires crackle underneath the stars. You can tell when someone else has been where you're walking, the sand holds onto memories of people that were there before you, showing you the direction they traveled, whether they were alone or with others. But as I walked the beach today, I realized something I had never thought of before, the tide renews and restores. Being first on the beach as the tide was going out, the beach was blank, the sand had been levelled, with no trace of anyone or anything that had shared this shore before me. The beach doesn't forget the footprints of the people who have walked on it, it just doesn't show signs of them. This is a lesson my heart needs to learn.
Time for a clean slate.