Naomi Anais Sanchez, age 16
There’s always been something about the ocean that intrigues me. Maybe it’s the way the waves move: free and unpredictable. Or maybe it’s the feeling I get when I inhale the smell and let it flow through my nose and down to my toes. Or perhaps it’s the feeling I get when my feet move from the familiar territories of sand into a ceaseless sea of the unknown.
Maybe it’s all of things and more. Regardless, the ocean has always been a motif in my life.
It all started the day I was born, February 18th, the last day of the Aquarius, the water carrier. If you follow or know a small amount about astrology, you might know that the Aquarius symbol is two waves. I am not the biggest follower of astrology, but I sort of see my being an Aquarius is the beginning of my connection the ocean.
It continued on to when I was in kindergarten and realized that I’m half Puerto Rican, and that Puerto Rico was a small Island, and that an Island was a small piece of land surrounded by the ocean. Although, I was stuck in my little house, I always dreamt about being by the ocean by my little beautiful island; Puerto Rico.
Somewhere around the 2nd grade, I learned to swim. Although the chlorine pool wasn’t exactly the ocean, I couldn’t get enough of it, I would stay in there for hours and hours. Going back and forth swimming in a 20 by 40 box of water, contained and closed in.
Then around the 7th grade, I learned to canoe in a lake. I’d travel the current until everything behind me got a little blurry. And then once everything behind me disappeared, I’d try to stop the canoe by sticking my hand in water. I would feel the water push my hand, fighting to try and get me to keep going, until it gave up and let me win, and the canoe would stop and I’d go back home. Although larger than the pool, the lake never satisfied me.
Around 10th grade, I went to the actual ocean. I ran to it once I caught a glimpse of it. As I ran, the hot sand tried to grab my feet and bury them, to try to prevent me from going into the water, but I kept going. I ran and ran and ran, until my feet met the water and it was a part of me. I went farther into the ocean until I my body became a part of it. I didn’t want to leave that day, I just wanted to go as far as the ocean can take me, and keep riding the waves until they were no more. I wanted to just melt into it and forever be apart of it. But, I left that day and I all I can think about was how I wanted to go back.
Now, in present times, the ocean is all around me. Recently, I watched the beautiful movie, “Moana.” Although this movie had thousands of beautiful attributes; the wonderful musical work of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the beautiful voices of Chris Jackson, Auli’I Cravalho and Phillipa Soo, the amazing animations, the impeccable plot line and character development, but the most outstanding part, was Moana, herself. I never related to a character on that level before, until her.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I promise I won’t spoil it, but here is a small summarization of the plotline; Moana is the 16-year-old daughter of the Chief of her people on their island. Her father expects her to take on the role of being the next chief, but Moana is struggling to live up to that, due to her fascination with exploring the ocean. This becomes an obstacle for Moana, because her father has strictly prohibited her from the ocean, because of the danger it presents. But, when the fate of her people is in jeopardy and the ocean “calls” her, Moana disobeys her father commands, and travels across the sea to help her people by finding Maui (a demi-god) and returning the heart of Te Fiti.
Moana and I are a lot alike. We both love the ocean. We both got those natural curls. We are both non-white teenage girls. We both have parents with high expectations. We both love being free and independent. We both have influential fathers. We both love our family and home.
But above all, We both long to explore the unknown.
Some see this as a bad thing. But, I would argue that those who say that exploring the unknown is bad are actually just afraid. They want to stay on the sand, where there’s comfort, familiarity, and safety, because they’re too afraid to go into the ocean, which is foreign and unfamiliar. But, if we are constantly in the sand, how will we know if we are living our lives to the fullest? Maybe the ocean is where we are meant to be. Yeah the ocean is unsafe, with it’s thunderstorms and mysterious creatures that lurk in he deep, but it is also beautiful, with it’s waves that have a mind of it’s own and the beautiful creatures and the smell. You have to go through the storms and the fear, in order to truly see the beauty it beholds.
It’s like life; we have to fall down, in order to get back up. The world is an ugly and terrifying place, but it’s also beautiful and full of amazing opportunities that are calling you, that are calling me. And I refuse to ignore that call and live my life in fear of what is ahead of me. I will go head first and know that as long as I know who I am and have the Lord by my side, I will be ALRIGHT and I WON’T BE AFRAID. I know I will probably get hurt down the line and go through some storms and come across mysterious creatures, but in the end, it would have been worth it.
One difference between Moana and I, is her father wanted to keep her from going into the ocean, and my father pushes me to go towards the ocean. My father knows my future is too promising to keep me in the sand. But, sometimes fathers want to keep their daughters in the sand, and are afraid to let them into the ocean. And I will forever be grateful that my father didn’t do that.
Ever since I was younger the ocean called me, and it’s still calling. From dreaming of my island, to swimming in a contained pool, to canoeing in a lake, to finally putting my feet into the actual ocean. And it won’t stop there, because I will go as far as the waves can take me, and go deeper and deeper into the ocean, for it calls me.
I’ll leave you with this question, is the ocean calling you? Are you going to go chase it, even though you don’t know what’s ahead of you? Or are you going to stay in the sand, because you’re afraid of what might happen?
If you feel like God is calling you to step into the water and leave the sand, are you going to do it?