A few weeks ago, I created a box of writing prompts. Every once in awhile, I draw a prompt from the box and write for a finite period of time. This morning, I drew:
Write about two places that pull you.
I set my infamous iPhone “duck” timer for 15 minutes and wrote, doing my best not to edit along the way. With a few minor exceptions on the edits, here’s what I wrote:
I love the ocean. What do I think of first when I think of the ocean? The scent of the sea—the salt, the fish, the seaweed. Next is the cool, moist air mixed with the spray of saltwater against my skin, the taste of it on my lips.
I close my eyes, and I hear the waves, either crashing up against the shore, or lapping softly around my feet. The cold, cold water at first makes me run from the waves, until I can no longer resist feeling it tickle my toes. Sometimes I think about living in a house where I can open the windows to the sound, the smell of the sea. I dream of falling asleep to the sound of the waves.
What is it about this sound that I love? Maybe its rhythm is like the breath of the earth, or perhaps the heart beat. Either way, it gives me a feeling that regardless of whatever is going on with me, life goes on in a gentle rhythm, that it will go on whether I exist or not.
Another thing about the ocean that makes me realize how insignificant I am is searching for life around the ocean. The cry of seagulls, tide pools, crabs running across the wet sand. I especially like finding a tide pool, studying it, watching the tiny world that exists with anemone, crabs, and starfish. Dozens of these little worlds can exist on one tiny stretch of beach. How insignificant does that make me and any problems I might have?
After the ocean, I am pulled to the forests, especially a redwood forest. I still remember walking through the redwoods as a child, especially when I was alone. The scent of the pine needles beneath my feet, the sound of their crushing beneath each step, so gentle and soft, yet echoing in the quiet.
I loved the green ferns everywhere, such a pretty contrast against the red bark of the giant trees. Sometimes I’d look up and spin around, but had to stop after a spin or two after dizziness made me feel like I might fall.
Often, I would pretend I was in a magical place—that there were fairies and nymphs all around me. But they remained hidden so I would not discover them. Yet, they were there to protect me.
I wondered about what took place in the world during the century-old histories of many of the trees. And once again, I’d feel insignificant in the world. One tiny human being in a tiny moment in time. And as with my time at the ocean, all of a sudden nothing in my life seemed too big to handle.
Good job and nice exercise.
The mountains draw me most of all. They’re to me the way the ocean seems to be to you. I do love the ocean, too, though, just don’t get to it as much.
The fact that you wrote this in fifteen minutes is fantastic. Very fluid and captivating in your descriptions. Wonderful indeed.
A beautiful essay about the two places you love. I’m a writer who needs a lot of time to create something so exceptional. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as the ocean is one of my favorite places too. We lived for 9 years close enough to smell the ocean in the air. We went on our boat as often as we could and being out in the water increases the sensory perceptions of the only place on earth that represents total peace. The high desert of NM is second on my list. A place where I like to spend time and soak up the stark yet beautiful tranquility. Nights in both locales are exceptional. Brightly lit creatures swim beneath the surface of the ocean, and in the high desert, the clear air reveals stars at their finest. Thanks for reminding me of these places on this cold day.