Most of the Earth is covered by the ocean, and this vast salt water realm holds a special place in the hearts of many. The ocean offers opportunities for exploration, rest, and play, as well as food and employment. Many people feel quieted or excited in the presence of its beautiful, powerful, and ever-moving waves, or experience a sense of connection and belonging at the seashore — which is perhaps not surprising, given that our bodies are about 70% water. What’s more, the ocean makes up about 70% of our blue planet’s surface, and close to 97% of the world's water resides in the ocean at any given time.
As we care for the ocean, we care for ourselves. The Native American Lakota Tribe have a saying that has spread throughout the environmental movement in recent years: “Water is Life.” The sea is the foundation of our ecosystem, providing access to clean water, air, and food. Enjoying the ocean is healthy for us, too: Time in nature has been found to be stress-reducing and healing; the fresh, salty air can ease respiratory distress; and, while UV protection is important, a sunny day at the beach provides crucial vitamin D. It’s little surprise that countless writers and thinkers have mused about the ocean’s soothing rhythms, timeless power, and magnetism, as these 17 quotes attest.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.
— John F. Kennedy
To me, the sea is a continual miracle; the fishes that swim, the rocks, the motion of the waves, the ships with men in them. What stranger miracles are there?
— Walt Whitman
The sea, that great library of books one cannot read.
— Ian Fleming
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.
— E.E. Cummings
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
— Jacques Cousteau
But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of the ocean.
— H.P. Lovecraft
No water, no life. No blue, no green.
— Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist and author
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.
— Danish writer Karen Christence Dinesen
And somebody told me this is the place
where everything's better, and everything's safe.
Walk on the ocean, step on the stones.
Flesh becomes water, wood becomes bone.
— “Walk on the Ocean,” 1991 song by Toad the Wet Sprocket
Ocean… It is Time perhaps,
or the vessel filled with all motion, pure Oneness,
that death cannot touch, the visceral green of consuming totality...
— Pablo Neruda
Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths.
When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, Austro-German poet
A wave in the sea, seen in one way, seems to have a distinct identity, an end and a beginning, a birth and a death. Seen in another way, the wave doesn’t really exist, but is just the behavior of water, ‘empty’ of any separate identity, but ‘full’ of water.
— Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought, and the shells and pebbles and the seaweed with tiny living creatures attached to it never lost their fascination for me.
— Helen Keller
In one drop of water are found the secrets of all the endless oceans.
— Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American writer and artist
He that will learn to pray, let him go to sea.
— George Herbert, English poet and priest
Photo credit: James Eades/ Unsplash