I recently finished reading a very interesting book that I think everyone who loves the ocean should read. It’s by no means a fast or easy read, but certainly worth your time! The book, by Wallace J. Nichols , is Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. The title really tells you exactly what the book is about.
I’ve always been a water bug, but the ocean draws me in a way that I could never explain. I can sit on the beach and just stare at the water, sit on my surf board and stare out to sea while other surfers are catching waves, and just hang neutrally buoyant in the ocean and relax. I’ve never been able to describe it in a few words. It fills all my senses, seems to take over my mind and body – I know my pulse and breathing slow, my blood pressure drops, my muscles loosen, sometimes the tears flow, and stress seems to disappear. It’s about the salty smell, the fluid movement, the sound of the surf, the taste in the air, the salt and sun on my skin. I didn’t grow up on or near the ocean, but from the first time I saw the Atlantic, I knew it was where I needed to be. Later in life I discovered that the Pacific had even more draw for me.
I’ve always known many other people felt as I did. Certainly surfers, divers, sailors – they, more than most, can completely share in the experience with me. What I didn’t know until I read Blue Mind was that it isn’t just me and a bunch of ocean lovers that feel this way, but that water and the ocean can do this to every human; that nature has built us that way. Dr. Nichols takes the time to explain why this is. He gives examples of how the ocean and activities connected to it have turned people’s lives around for the better, helped to restore health, been a part of longevity, and helped to fill empty souls.
The book was by no means the smoothest or fastest read – and often not in the least bit riveting. But, no matter what, I wanted to finish it, and I’m glad I did. There’s something in this book for those science minded individuals who want to understand the neurochemical science behind the ocean-human connection, and something for those spiritual people who just want to know that the connection they feel is more than just a feeling. As I read the book, I often felt viscerally connected to his words; I felt myself reacting as I do around the ocean – emotionally and mentally – as he described the exact feelings. For me, those where the most outstanding parts of the book.
When I first heard about the book and saw the title I knew I had to read it. Now that I’ve finished it and found myself so touched by the facts behind my feelings, I feel compelled to recommend it to all ocean lovers… and give it as a gift.