Your day on Terschelling started with packing a bag in preparation for being on the beach for several hours. You collected a thermos with tea, a sandwich, suncream, bikini, towel, shorts, water, sunglasses, face mask (you never know) and stepped onto your bike. You chose to work on the location that was the closest: only a fifteen minute ride.
The sun was present but not too strong and the wind was softly stroking your arms. The weather was perfect. Your bike ride went through the forest, shadows of high trees, green leaves, and the sweet warm smell of resinous tree sap. You left your bike at the side of a path that was too steep and too sandy to bike, and walked up the dune. At the top you stopped for a moment to take in the first sight of the sea.
You saw a wide wide beach, little tufts of grass, the sea ofcourse with small waves, and in the sea, maybe a kilometer from the beach, straight along the path on which you were walking, some kind of watchtower.
You walked down the dune and to the sea, almost automatically. With every step you took, you felt an indefinite sadness coming to the surface. Probably it had been there for a while, lingering, not strong enough to express itself. But leaving the dunes behind you, it was as if you were leaving the protection of your life, so that you could suddenly hear this sad and quiet voice. It was not unpleasant, but you could not hear what it was saying exactly. You stopped walking to the sea. Maybe you could stay a little bit closer to where you came from. What should your place be in this wide open space? In front of you was a mini bush of grass, a future dune. You sat next to it, facing the sea. Automatically your hands started stroking the soft top layer of the sand. It felt pleasantly intimate. You imagined having a pet.
You wondered why you were facing the sea. Suddenly it felt unnatural. You had wanted to stay closer to the dunes that you had left behind, maybe you should take the consequences of that. You tried sitting with your face towards the dunes. Now you were looking at where you came from. That was not the right position either. You tried sitting with your face towards the beach, the ‘in between’ land between where you came from and the sea and in a way that felt good, especially when you had the sea and the watchtower on your left and the dunes on your right. You sat for a while, looking at the vast land in front of you and feeling guarded by the tower.
You wondered: why do people go to the sea? What does the ritual of a sea visit mean? Is it this symbolic transition that people make, leaving their lives behind, entering a liquid universe of other possible ways of being?
You put on your bikini.
The water is cold, but you really want to get in. You walk into the sea, slowly, to get used to the temperature, until a huge wave rolls over you and you are completely wet. The currents are strong. You let your body go with the stream and the waves and it is delightful. You walk back into the sea again and again to be embraced by the waves. The water feels warm, until it is suddenly cold again. You walk back to your place next to the small bush of grass to let your body dry in the sun.
You have placed yourself.