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Thanksgiving week challenge of conscious gratitude, day two. (For an explanation, see my previous post.)

I again scrolled blindly this morning through the myriad pictures that live on this computer, and landed on one from a few years ago. August 22, 2014: I’d lived on the coast for one week, after moving across the country with what I’d decided were my most worldly – or useful – possessions packed tightly into my small car. By the 22nd, I’d gone to several days of work already, and I remember those days as ones soaked in exhaustion, uncertainty, and purpose.

The previous months had been emotionally tumultuous; at the time, I wasn’t sure what to make of them, but now I look back on them with an awareness that they were a gift of presence and unexpected connection. My move to California was something that allowed me to both start fresh and yet dive back into a part of the world that I’d found uniquely resonant with something unnamed in my soul.

In the first weeks of living here, I found myself often at the ocean, walking along its edge for hours, occasionally seeking out hidden vistas. I remember, in particular, a secret nook where I sat and watched the sun lazily work its way towards the horizon, before suddenly nose-diving downward and disappearing.

I wondered if I would become immune to the water itself, if I would take for granted this enormous, powerful, mystical being that threw its waves onto the shore again, and again, and again.

Yet all this time later, it turns out that my appreciation for this marvel has only deepened. It is steady, incredibly beautiful, and a reminder of my smallness on this planet (which is a feeling I enjoy). It gives me a place to go when I need to mourn, or when I need to stand in awe, or when I need to connect with nature closely enough that – for a moment – I know the face of whatever god rules this world. It is humbling, grounding, and magical, and when I drive by it now – every day; it is always right there – I know I could never become immune to it.

Instead, I grow only more grateful that in the course of these years, this incredible body of water has been not just my neighbor; it has allowed me the honor of also becoming a friend. I am thankful every day for the privilege of loving this magnificent Pacific Ocean.

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