The Ocean.

“A picture in grey.
Dorian Gray.
Just me
By the sea.
And I felt like a star.
I felt the world could go far,
If they listened
To what I said.
By the sea.

Washes my feet.
Washed my feet.
Splashes my soul”.

From “The Ocean” by U2.


One of my favourite views is when I first see the sea off the coast of Stonehaven on the drive to Aberdeen.  It’s a dull stretch of road which is suddenly transformed by the vastness of the sea. 

Something within me draws me to water.  Living as I do now by the Firth of Forth, I like to know that I can see water from many vantage points in the city I call home.  That said, I miss living within easy walking distance of it like when we stayed in Cramond.

There’s something about staring at the sea.  It helps me put things in perspective.  The decision to ask someone out, who later became my wife, was arrived at after a lunch hour spent with a notepad and bible looking at the water.  At the time we almost split up, my natural inclination took me to the beach, were I contemplated alone and kicked the sand and wondered what would happen before finding peace simply sat on the beach surrendering as I stared at the sea once more.

Like the lyrics above suggest, maybe there is something strangely powerful in the simple meeting of ocean and beach.  The washing of feet, the splashing of soul, the realisation of the love of a Father whose thoughts for me outnumber the grains of sand.

The song that has inspired these thoughts remains one of my favourite U2 moments.  A short interlude on the “Boy” album, a gathering of thoughts before a song about suicide.  With hindsight it is interesting to see the lyrics, thoughts and themes that inspired a young Dubliner as he expressed his adolescence in music with no idea where that would take his three friends and himself in the future.  Amongst these, being by the sea seemed to provide a sacred space to gain perspective – to dream, to be refreshed and restored.


5 Responses to “The Ocean.”

  1. 1 dandanglover May 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I love that album, and that song. And I love the sea- many of my own songs strangely focus on it, despite the fact I live nowhere near it.

    Just out of interest, you wouldn’t by any chance be going to see U2 in Glasgow in August would you?

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin May 12, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    It’s funny to learn of how an album recorded back in 1981 connects with so many generations. I know folks much older than me and much younger than me who really “get” that record.

    The ocean is such a vast thing. We sing of it on the stuff that gets heavy rotation on our iPods, it gets used as footage for atmospheric orchestral arrangements or the likes of Sigur Ros. We sing of “Love vast as an ocean”, “All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea”. It will always be a muse due to the serenity it provides or the mystery, power and danger – the fact that it brings us back down to size…the washing away or cleansing it can provide…

    Yeah – I’ll be at Hampden. Have you managed to get a ticket?



    • 3 dandanglover May 12, 2009 at 9:43 pm

      Yeah! Me, Kieran and Dad will be there. Hoping to arrive mega-early to get down near the front 😀 can’t wait!! Hoping they play a bunch fo stuff off that album… The Electric Co. would be awesome.

      Also, just thought I should say that I am now a bona fide subscriber to your blog- really enjoying it!

  3. 4 brunettekoala May 12, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    You’re causing me to pine for Stoney! It was the one thing I loved about my daily commute was driving down and seeing that view of the memorial, Dunnottar, the sea, the waves…

    I simply cannot imagine not living close to the sea. I remember how when I was really angry I would drive out to Balmedie in the dead of night to calm, usually to shout at God, to get perspective. Equally when we got stressed at uni we’d go for a walk (or attempted cartwheel) down on the Aberdeen beach.

    I wonder if that’s why my calming place in Edinburgh is Ocean Terminal…!

  4. 5 thestatethatiamin May 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Seems the sea connects with many of us more than we sometimes realise…

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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