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Overwhelmed with Gratitude and Peace on a Cold Winter’s Day

Taking in the rush and crash of ocean waves reminds us that nature is never frozen but always a living force.

Ocean in winter
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Recently, I had the good fortune of standing on a beach, gazing into the majestic vastness of the Atlantic Ocean on a cold winter’s day.

The effect of being in such a beautiful natural space was instantaneous and powerful. Honestly, standing at the edge of the sea is a year-round profound feeling—it connects with that deep-seated human need to feel a sense of awe, our smallness in the presence of something vast.

In winter, most forays into nature, like walks in the woods, are journeys into a special kind of silence. But hearing the rush and crash of ocean waves is a particularly poignant reminder that nature is a place of movement, survival and adaptation to the seasons—even a life.

I’ve always felt that returning to special places is a new experience each time. But we also “visit” our past selves in those spaces when we return. The seashore is never the same from day to day, or year to year. But there is a familiarity about it that brings me into a place of wistfulness, sweet memory and deep peace.

In the winter, the world is quiet but the ocean is so alive, not encased in cold stillness. Evidence of sea life like skate egg cases or clam and scallop shells pepper the shoreline, undisturbed by the blankets and umbrellas that are hallmarks of the summer season. The light, when it pierces the gray cloud cover, is brilliant, illuminating. The sand is smoothed of footprints and is a complete record of the lapping and foaming of the waves as they ebb and flow with the tides.

As I stood there and took in deep breaths of the sharp, bracing air, I felt nearly overwhelmed with gratitude, presence and peace—the hallmarks of the authentically positive lifestyle that we talk about in this space each time I write. Like each individual wave in a retreating tide, positivity can feel fleeting. But like the ocean itself, authentic positivity is a constant, living force, one that’s there for us to connect with whenever we can make our way to its shoreline.

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