It would have been an ordinary day visiting the beach, but when we got there, the ocean was gone.
Our first question was, “When did this happen?” and then, “How did we not hear about this?” and soon after, “Where did it all go?”
Nothing that enormous can go away without notice. We knew it. There was another fact rolling around in our heads. It was the fact that something of that size had to be somewhere. It couldn’t just disappear. It couldn’t vanish. It couldn’t be gone forever.
So we searched. We looked in the canyons first, and the ocean wasn’t there. There wasn’t even a streamlet. The questions came again, such as: “How did we not notice the streams drying up?”
We went up the canyons to the tops of the mountains to try to get a better view. From one mountain we could only see another mountain, so we tried the range that overlooked the ocean, when the ocean had been there before.
From there we saw them…all the people of all the world. They had gathered, like us, to enjoy the ocean, and stood dazed and amazed, like us, to see the ocean was no longer there. Animals gathered too. They came expecting to be cooled and quenched, and found only dry sand. Nothing was there anymore to wet their tired lips or cool their parched tongues or wash their skin, or even to give fish an element in which to live.
As we watched, we saw everyone and everything be consumed by the same emotion. Everyone grieved at the same moment to find the ocean missing. Everyone began to cry…and the tears were sublime. The tears couldn’t be held back. The tears rolled and began to drench everyone’s feet. The tears flowed and began to make streams down the beach.
As we watched, our own tears flowed and we made new streams in the mountains. Our streams of tears met and made rivers. The rivers formed and we knew then the ocean wasn’t gone. The ocean couldn’t be stopped forever. It was meant to be there and every single one of us who wanted it made it real again. We exist because of the ocean…but now we know it also exists because of us.
Now we have a new saying: “The manliest of men will not hold in emotion. He will cry an ocean.”
And I know it’s true because I tasted the salt of my tears.