Motion of the Ocean Essay

Originally written July 12, 2012

In the words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge accepted!” Meirya commented on my last essay, the Strangeness of Fish about how water is constantly moving and it inspired me to write this. And no, I don’t apologize for the title. 😛

Written July 25, 2012

Water is movement: constant, undulating, swaying and rippling movement. Even if you hold absolutely still in water, you can still feel minute rhythms swirling around you. And any move you make causes the water to slosh and stir.

I’ve noticed that while the earth moves, it moves slowly. It’s a grinding, almost imperceptible shifting underneath our feet. And true that you can feel air, but it’s only in wind form from a breeze or gust. Water, like fire, is always in motion. Water moves from the push and pull of the ocean’s tides, to the rushing of a river, to the steady drop of rain, to the deceitful stillness of a pond.

And when I think about how the motion of water affects the life within it, I can see that things that live within water are all about movement too. Earth-bound animals have movement, as do birds, but they also have a beautiful quiet stillness when watching things, hunting prey, living, etc. They can stop moving, whereas water beings are always in a state of activity. Some species of fish, including many species of sharks, need to constantly swim to be able to breathe and if they stop swimming, they suffocate. Water also maintains their buoyancy. Other species, like krill, plankton and sea slugs need the actual currents within water to move them in order to feed.

I feel the motion of the ocean whenever I sit still. It’s this almost electricity-feeling underneath my skin which prickles and makes me feel twitchy even when I’m absolutely motionless. It pulses almost as if it’s mimicking the waves themselves. And I can feel my gills moving ever so slightly in time to the dance of the ocean.

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The Strangeness of Fish Essay

Here’s another essay that I posted to my LJ a couple of weeks ago and completely forgot to also share here.

Inspired by Meirya’s Expressing Hawk and Expressing Phoenix posts lately.

Expressing fish, or rather in my case aquatic fae, can be compared to most people’s idea of a mermaid. But since I’m neither a ‘maid’ nor was the society strictly female-centric, I don’t like using mermaid to describe my experiences, even though that’s clearly what I am.

Anyway, I was going to write about how my aquatic fae aspect manifests in my everyday life, but it seems I already did that with my Life Aquatic essay. So, taking another leaf out of Meirya’s book about the Alienness of Bird, here’s the Strangeness of Fish.

From an aquatic perspective, fish don’t have lungs and they don’t breathe air like mammals do. It’s all about the gills; opening and closing them to wash water over and through to allow them to ‘breathe’. Breathing like a fish is all about the flow, drawing in a substance that is neither light nor wispy. The feeling of air which humans experience when taking a deep breath is more of a delicate and graceful process, in my opinion.

I equate mammalian lungs with the element of air, while thinking of a fish’s gills clearly comes through as water. It’s true that even fish are taking oxygen from the water, but it’s different somehow. Breathing like a fish is more tactile and, if you’ll excuse the pun, fluid while breathing like a mammal is light and gentle. If I had to compare colors, breathing air is white or a pale yellow, while breathing water is a deep cerulean blue with swirling motes of turquoise.

Sometimes I find that breathing like a mammal is alien and strange. Feeling practically nothing enter and exit my body as I breathe is just wrong and I then need to consciously focus on the movement and to not hold my breath.

While some fish, types of sharks mostly, don’t have an operculum (gill cover); I find that my aquatic aspect does. I can consciously move my gills, or rather the operculum, open and closed easily. Mammals don’t have gills or operculum, obviously, so the feeling of moving basically what amounts to slits on the sides of my neck doesn’t really share any similarities with things on my mammalian body. I can spread my fingers apart, but that doesn’t go inside my body. Breathing air is similar as it goes into my mammalian lungs, but water is tangible and heavier than air so it feels very different.

Now that I think about it, having gills and such an intimate relationship with water is also alien for mammals. True, that mammals can swim and some even spend their entire lives in water (Cetaceans), they still do not completely depend on the element of water. While mammals need water for drinking, they do not breathe it and do not have such a close relationship with water as fish do. Most mammals spend their entire lives on dry land, using water to sustain their existence. Whereas fish depend on water 100%: they live in it, get their food from it, cannot leave it without dying and breathe it in. Water is a best friend to mammals, whereas it is an intimate lover to fish.

The gravity of breathing underwater cannot be grasped by mammals. Coming up for air every few seconds, or minutes if you’re lucky (again, Cetaceans), is merely an inconvenience for most. For me, it can be downright torturous. I know in that hidden part of my core being that I should be able to take in water through my gills and stay underwater for as long as I wish.

Going underwater is a short vacation for mammals, visiting another world that you cannot truly belong to; nonetheless visiting it is fun and interesting and many mammals enjoy doing it. Being underwater for me is like going home: I belong there and I need to be there.

I’ve also experienced the strangeness of having human legs. This most often happens while I’m walking and my mindset suddenly shifts to more aquatic and I find that I need to consciously keep putting one foot in front of the other to maintain my forward motion. I want to stop and simply float, gently swaying back and forth in the current, but unless there’s a breeze, being on land has no current like being underwater does. It’s hard to wrap the aquatic mindset around moving two independent stumps to create motion whereas in my aquatic form, a long tail moves me easily. Sometimes swaying a little as I walk helps to alleviate this feeling though.

The feel of water on the skin is also different than air. Mammals are surrounded by air for their entire lives; it envelops them and is a fragile reminder of their existence. Water, on the other hand, is thick and cushioning. Not as heavy as earth, but definitely more substantial than air. Despite water also making you feel weightless, it still feels different on the skin than air. Air is soft feathery elegance, while water is deep cool calmness.

Water is everything to a fish and to this aquatic fae.




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The Life Aquatic Essay

I wrote this back in March but never posted it here. 

I tend to drink a lot of water. It’s what I drink at work, what I drink at home, what I order to drink in restaurants. It’s not that my mouth and throat are particularly dry, just that I actually enjoy the taste of water and the feel of the cool liquid as it slides down my throat. I’ll drink any temperature of water, but the best is cool or cold. I find it more refreshing.

My need to drink water seems to overshadow what most people tend to drink. It’s not even something I’m consciously aware of; I just drink more water than your average person. I’ve never really thought about it before, but perhaps this ingrained desire to drink water all the time is related to being aquatic.

My skin, particularly in the winter time, is exceptionally dry. And even with the use of moisturizing lotion it seems dryer than most peoples. When I was in college, I refused to use lotion on the principle that it made me feel sticky and gross inside my clothing. Now, as I’m older, it’s simply a necessity in order to avoid painful skin cracking and flaking dead skin all the time. And it’s started to bleed over into the warmer months too.

In the dead of winter you can practically see the pattern of scales in the dry skin on my legs. I find that even after taking a bath, almost as soon as I dry off with my towel, my skin is dry and mourning the water already.

Sometimes being aquatic means gasping for air because I don’t have any gills. Sometimes I find myself, for no apparent physical reason, having a hard time breathing; air that is. It’s not that I’ve been physically active, or am stressed out, but like now, it feels like I have to struggle to breathe normally.

If I focus on it, on taking a slow deep breath, it seems to help. Although just trying to breathe normally sometimes seems strange. Once or twice I’ve found that focusing on using my gills to breathe alongside my lungs makes the feeling dissipate. But having gills is very different than having mammalian lungs. And trying to use gills with air rather than water is not right either and sometimes leaves my gills gasping like, well, a fish out of water.

Sometimes walking, when I’m in an aquatic mindset, just feels wrong. Humans don’t walk with an undulating movement the way fish swim. And once or twice I’ve had to push myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other because I couldn’t remember how to walk properly since it felt awkward. It was a fleeting feeling, but very disorienting.

When I swim, which isn’t nearly as often as I’d like, I swim with my legs together in a dolphin-like motion. I have preferred this to swimming with the scissors kick since I was a child. Wearing flippers/fins makes this easier and I prefer to, but sometimes I cannot due to where I’m swimming. Whenever I go swimming in a creek, lake, the ocean, etc. I take my fins with me, but they are often not allowed in water parks or public pools.

And while I love swimming and it makes me feel truly one with the water, not being able to breathe underwater has always been monumentally frustrating. I can hold my breath longer than the average person because I’ve trained myself to be able to, however, even my decent breath-holding cannot compare to a free diver. So when I was finally able to scuba dive in February in Cozumel, and when I found that I could stay underwater for longer than a minute, I almost cried in my mask with happiness. I had finally found a way to breathe underwater. And the feeling was amazing. Remembering that sensation, of not having to constantly go up to the surface for air, but instead being able to swim with the fish and still be able to sustain my body, was otherworldly and makes me grin even now. It was a lifelong goal before I tried it, and now that I’ve tried it, I only want more. Breathing underwater was simply amazing.

Last but not least, I have this seemingly-insatiable calling of the sea. It’s this terrible longing feeling I sometimes get where I remember the ocean and the smell of it. The feel of sand between my toes as I watch the cresting and crashing of the waves, over and over again. And that undeniable feeling of ‘this is home’. I usually can just push it to the back of my mind, or sate it by listening to ocean waves or wearing my favorite aquatic BPAL scent Pool of Tears, but sometimes, I remember that I was not always meant for life on land and that the salt water can sing in my veins…

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Coping with Homesickness for Otherkin Essay

I wrote this essay on Monday in response to reading Meirya’s Beyond Awakening blog on “Finding Home Away From Home” and Ketrino’s “How to Deal with the Yearning”. Thoughts are appreciated!

For those of us who feel we were not born as the right species, or in the right time period, culture, land, etc., dealing with that feeling of yearning or homesickness can crop up from time to time. After reading the above essays, it got me thinking on how Otherkin can best cope with this longing sensation.

Someone over on the group Animal Quills mentioned the term ‘fernweh’ to describe the longing for home. A German word that literally means “far sickness” or “an ache for the distance” rings true for me. Similarly, ‘sehnsucht’ which Meirya mentions in her essay, is another German word that relates to homesickness but is more a sense of intensely missing something/someplace. I’m sure many Otherkin can relate to both these words/concepts well.

For me it occurs as two different sensations; the first is a longing for a body I no longer possess and the second is for a time/land/culture which I feel wisps of what could be memories for but can no longer be a part of. For the former, sometimes referred to as species dysphoria, that topic is for another essay. This essay is focused more on that desire to go ‘home’ that many Otherkin experience.

I’ve found the best way to combat the longing sensation is to immerse yourself in the memories you do have of home. I’ve found that simply daydreaming about what I think may have been is helpful. Perhaps they are connected to real memories or perhaps not, but imagining what life was like can help make me feel better when missing home.

Try taking something from your past that you remember and either recreate it now or find an object that will either be a good stand in, or is a good duplicate of what you once had. This could be anything from a painting you remember making or seeing and recreating it now, to a toy from your other life’s childhood.

Adding onto the idea of collecting things that remind you of home, looking at pictures of places you believe you knew that are similar to those you remember or images that you feel drawn to will also help. And since the internet is a vast sea of knowledge, one can find pictures of everything from period clothing to landscapes to mythological creatures (or someone could simply create their own!). Immersing yourself in what you believe was around you back home can be a big help in feeling less out of touch with that part of your identity.

Another option which may be available to you is to visit a physical location on this Earth that either resonates strongly with you or is similar to your past home. For me, Ireland seems to call to me. And even though I’ve only ever seen pictures and have never been there (or anywhere near there), it feels like home. Or rather, a close approximation of what home was like to me. Someday, I plan on making a trip there.

For those of Fae leanings, the Celtic lands may be of particular interest. For earth-based animals, the natural environment of your theriotype may help. For dragons perhaps the dark forests of Germany or the light-filled cities of Japan. It all depends on what you identify as and what that creature’s home was like.

Something else that I’ve found works for me is music. Certain types, predictably Celtic music, makes me feel more relaxed and in a mindset to think of home and things related to home. Also, the sound of the waves crashing makes me feel more at home about my aquatic aspect.

Part of my feelings of homesickness is a sadness of never being able to actually go where I believe home was. Of never being able to go back to “the good old days”, etc. And most days, I simply push those feelings down and try to forget that I don’t really belong in this time period or in this human body. But on days where the longing is exceedingly strong, I try to think of things that remind me of those times and the above are some ways I feel better about not being home now.

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Home Again, Home Again Poem

I wrote this poem in February to be able to submit it to the spring edition of The Forest Voice with all submissions being due by March 1. However, in contacting Tsu the editor of the ezine, she told me she hadn’t received many submissions so Issue 2 was being pushed off into the summer months. But I wanted to share it with someone. And thank you to sparky for the beta.

Home again, home again jiggity jig.
Faraway, long ago, ziggity zig.

Oh to see those rolling hills again and sit beside the sea,
The verdant tangle forests are where I long to be.
From snow capped mountains to the sun-kissed shore,
I want to leave no stone unturned and go back for more.

Home again, home again jiggity jig.
Faraway, long ago, ziggity zig.

Creatures out of fairy tales and shining knights behold,
Tings discovered in your childhood from stories you were told.
Magical, mysterious and whimsical abound,
You experience the longing, and those feelings do confound.

Home again, home again jiggity jig.
Faraway, long ago, ziggity zig.

Time cannot separate the feeling of wishing to go home,
Away from all this business to where you have land to roam.
A sacred grove through weathered paths of golden stardust,
A winding journey that’s never sated by walkabouts or wanderlust.

Home again, home again jiggity jig.
Faraway, long ago, ziggity zig.

A wild place where fantasies and quests are all too real,
The stuff made out of legends that always have appealed.
How I long to be there and live there all anew,
My home where I belong and know that it is true.

Home again, home again jiggity jig.
Faraway, long ago, ziggity zig.

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Dorsal Fin

I have several LJ entries that document various phantom limb sensations so I’m going to break them down (and obviously later add to them) into a more organized fashion of specific phantom limb types. So today, the dorsal fin.

Originally written August 15, 2011
As I sit here in my desk chair at work, I just realized that I’m leaning slightly forward with my back away from the chair. And I feel…a fin or something moving as if swaying gently in the ocean’s current. It tingles and itches a bit but I can distinctly feel that pressure of phantom limbs just like my wolf ears and tail. It starts between the upper parts of my shoulder blades and goes down to the middle of my back and seems to be larger at the top while fading to smaller at the bottom. It’s a strong sensation and not unpleasant, just…strong.

Originally written February 15, 2012
The dorsal fin is harder to describe as I can really only feel the base as it attaches to my back. I thought before it was similar to an orca dorsal fin, curving slightly, but then a few weeks ago it felt more like a lionfish with spines that could collapse. The dorsal fin is the most dominant phantom limb and has been around for several years now. It’s similar to my wolf ears and tail which I tend to feel the most often in regards to my phantom limbs; they’re just always there.

Originally written February 17, 2012
I felt my dorsal fin which feels strongest connected to my back, like a pressure of a limb that’s not there. It seems to curve slightly like a bottlenose dolphin’s does.

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Call of the Sea Poem

Call of the Sea

I can feel it in my veins,
Swirling like a ballerina,
Around and around my heart it flows.

The push and pull of time itself,
Never-ending in its grace,
Strength and gentleness together go.

I can sit for hours,
Gazing ‘cross the misty horizon,
Peaceful as I’ll ever be.

‘Til the storm comes rolling in,
Frenzied waves destroying everything,
Power crashing over me.

The sun peaks through fluffy clouds,
Scattered sand dunes bear witness,
Flotsam and jetsam await.

I cannot deny the deep abyss,
Sapphire jewel of heaven,
The call of the sea is my fate.

Originally written July 28, 2010

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