Sometimes We Can’t See the Ocean for the Waves

Remember, the tubulence is only on the surface

I know, you’ve heard something like this before – usually about forests and trees. But this is the unique way the people of the island think of this idea. And it’s something they try to remember when they forget to put things in perspective.

Believe me, I know how easy it is to get so focused on a particular life situation that you lose sight of the bigger picture . . .

Recently, an opportunity came along for me to be part of a start-up project. I’ve done this kind of thing in the past and it’s typically something that is very energizing and exhilarating. I love the process of creating something new – seeing concepts take shape and come into reality. My role was to help out on creating a new logo, website and overall strategy. I could be involved as much as I wanted and I’d still have time for my other interests.

So, I dove in and started swimming.

At first, the waters were fine. I surfed the swells of interesting ideas and really enjoyed seeing things take shape. But pretty soon the waves got bigger and bigger until they were all I could see. I found I was spending so much brain power on this new situation that I forgot my original intention – to help out, but also reserve time for the other things that were important to me. I was so focused on a few waves that I lost sight of the ocean. The result? The pressure of assigning too much emphasis and importance to only one aspect of my life.

I needed a mental vacation. Time to visit the island.

As I walked along the beach in my mind, I noticed how the waves were tumbling up the sand and flowing around my ankles. One after the other they came, an ongoing, ageless rhythm. I stopped and gazed out towards the horizon. As far as I could see were endless peaks of blue-green water, rolling and flowing, on and on. Way out where the water meets the sky, I could no longer make out any individual waves. They had all disappeared into the wholeness of the vast ocean.

I realized that this particular situation was only part of my life. It wasn’t my whole life. Just like a few waves are not the whole ocean. This allowed me to look at things a little differently, with a little more clarity. I was able to re-align my priorities, to re-engage with the bigger picture. From this view, the giant waves didn’t seem quite so overwhelming.

I’m still a part of the project, but I’m seeing it for what it is – a part of my life. It’s just a wave, not the whole ocean. And as the stress has faded, my thinking has expanded. I have new approaches to try along with a renewed sense of excitement. I’m feeling much better about this now. All it took was a new perspective.

We all have endless waves of life situations. Have you ever found yourself not seeing the ocean for the waves?


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About Steve

I'm an author, web/graphics/brand designer and lover of all things tropical. When not working with the fun clients I get to meet through Ahani Design, I can be found exploring the beach at Island Perspective and kicking back with the island tribe at Facebook/Island Perspective.


  1. Wonderful, Steve! I’m so glad that you were able to gain a new perspective, allowing you to get the clarity you needed to put everything in better balance. It sounds like the waves helped you see how to regain your peace and a deeper sense of fulfillment. I love those mental walks along the beach! Thanks for sharing with us.


  2. Steve says:

    Thanks Linda. It’s so easy to get caught up in something & lose sight of the bigger picture. Taking a “mental vacation” for a few moments is something I find I need to do often!

  3. georgiana says:

    Love this post…
    So easy to get caught up in the doing & allowing it to comsume
    Beautifully written!!!
    I really love your website & posts :-)!!!

  4. Gosh I love this! It has always been my philosophy to do and share what I love… right up this alley!

  5. Awesome post, Steve.

    Soo easy to lose perspective. Kudos to you for knowing that might be the case and getting back to your grounding mechanism.

    After many years doing without, I know have quality grounding mechanisms (eg my farm, my relationship with Scotty, etc.) that I use to bring perspective for me.

    Notwithstanding having the mechanisms, I absolutely am sometimes late to use the mechanisms. :)

  6. Steve says:

    Thanks for the kind words Georgiana and Sharon!

    Dave – Yep, I know what you mean. We all need to have grounding mechanisms that are meaningful and helpful to us. And the real key is remembering to USE them when needed. I find I usually have LOTS of opportunities to practice living with An Island Perspective!

  7. This is great, Steve! Your analogy & imagery are lovely… & words I definitely needed to read!
    My stormy “wave” of late, has been my injured back. It’s amazing how much energy & focus is put into injury — that’s Not where I want my focus to be, but it’s just feels (literally!) overwhelming at times.
    I need to heed your advice, and remember this is just a stormy set of waves, not the entire ocean…. thanks much for your encouragement!

  8. Steve says:

    Sorry to hear about your back Heidi. I know that can take a while to feel better. Maybe Atticus can help with a little paw therapy!

    Sometimes it’s really hard not to put a ton of attention to a particular life event, especially something like a sore back. But try to remember that this turbulent wave will eventually die down and the waters will be calm again! It might also help to borrow another Ocean perspective from the island – that the turbulence is only on the surface. Down in the depths of your being, all is calm, serene and well.