Brighter Things is Steven Jackson, an Alabama-based songwriter making music and words fit together so life might make more sense.  Music released here, free, weekly-ish. Sign up to get notifications of new songs & videos.

I'm in a romantic relationship with the ocean. It's complicated.

I'm in a romantic relationship with the ocean. It's complicated.

The ocean draws me to its shapeless abyss and its tightly carved shorelines. Its beauty and brawn remind me that Heaven is laid out here before us. Now. And that it can be swept away in an instant. The ocean is God we can touch. I used to ready myself for the squalls and rising tide, staring downward to steady my stance in the sand. Love reminds us to fear the inevitable tsunami that will wipe us away. Fear is worse. It tells us not to swim before the storm comes.

It’s a hungry, hungry sea that would swallow you and me. Speak soft and grab anything that floats.
— Hide with Me by Brighter Things

This Old Man & The Sea

I'm in a romantic relationship with the ocean. It's complicated. I was first mesmerized by the ocean as a kid. I lived on a boat at 19. A spontaneous drive took me and the most magnificent girl to the Gulf Coast in college. We fell in love right then and there, forever.

Then, I fell in an oyster bed off the Outer Banks and wound up with stitches and an anxiety disorder that had just been waiting for a weird event like this to trigger it.

We had babies. We watched them run from the frothy lips of the waves back up into our arms.

Then, fed up, after a 10-year fight with what was then an undiagnosed metabolic disorder, I drank a couple bottles of wine, balled my fists and went in screaming after whatever force was driving that massive body of water. I needed to know I could fight something. I barely made it out alive. I imagine I looked a little like this:

 

5 Things I learned from my fistfight with the ocean:

  1. I was not built to withstand the swells and not-so-swells the world throws my way. I was broken and I might have relearn to float before swimming. I'm a lover. Not a fighter.

  2. Grown men sound like tiny, terrified girls when trying to scream louder than the crushing, crashing waves.

  3. Alcohol is no longer my friend. Instead of being my emotional buoy, it is now quite happy to help me drown myself.
  4. If I wanted to keep the amazing woman I fell for madly at this same ocean, this kind of shit couldn't happen again (it would, of course, happen a few more times – just in different locations – passing out in hot tubs, sleeping in the shower ... I seemed to return to water in times of crisis until I discovered just being with the suffering.) Our vows of sickness & health aside, I was not the man she chose to spend her life with during that period of unrest.
  5. Finding the cause of my illness had to be my top priority so I could stop being scared, angry, drunk & depressed. I was self-medicating with poison.(Thankfully, I finally found help from my heroes at Mayo Clinic, Cool Springs Family Medicine, and Hudson Alpha's Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine)

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The places where we don't have no tans

The places where we don't have no tans

Bring your crosses, beads, rugs, peyote and ayahuasca. I'll bring a guitar. Amen.

Bring your crosses, beads, rugs, peyote and ayahuasca. I'll bring a guitar. Amen.

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