Purposelessness in Rhythm

PHOTOS: Max Houtzager, Rob Schanz

LOCATION: California

Finding purpose on a temperamental sea ironically means preparing oneself for a certain purposelessness, gray area, indecision: you don’t know what the day will bring, so it’s a give-and-take between your will and that of the sea, an ongoing compromise that the individual makes with his or her environment in order to navigate the uncharted waters of a brand new day.

The beauty of the outdoors is consistent in the sentiment of gratitude and connection it inspires within. But nature itself changes every time we step outside, and with every additional step we take. A shift in the wind, a change in pressure, a cloud that abstracts a sky which yesterday might have shone a pure and deep cerulean, but is today marbled with tufts of puffy white. Any given day will begin with a sun which rises as never before, concluding with a sunset equally unique — like the rise and fall that bookends our each and every day, what might happen in between dawn and dusk is never devoid of novelty.

It’s not that our experience lacks consistency; in fact, repetition and ritual help us notice how subtle these differences can be, but also how important they are in shaping how we approach the day, and what we ultimately take away. Photography makes apparent how dramatic seemingly small changes can affect the individual’s perspective. As the sun makes its daily round from east to west, what is revealed beneath by virtue of its rays steadily shifts — as the day progresses, the new angle uncovers as much as it obscures, but we can take it all in by simply paying attention, beginning to end.

The first ten minutes you spend at the beach is more of an exploratory venture than anything else — testing the waters, so to speak. We notice new details and textures in these familiar surroundings, tuning into the sea’s new rhythm — what feels like a distant echo of yesterday, differences and all. Sensitive to the subtlest of inputs, the ocean is just as subject to change as the rest of the world. Finding purpose on a temperamental sea ironically means preparing oneself for a certain purposelessness, gray area, indecision: you don’t know what the day will bring, so it’s a give-and-take between your will and that of the sea, an ongoing compromise that the individual makes with his or her environment in order to navigate the uncharted waters of a brand new day.

Observation and reaction are essential to this process — through the push and pull, we find freedom on the water.

Rob Schanz and Amy Schnittger in the Terasu X Axxe Classic Wetsuit Jacket. Order here.