In writing this book, I realized that in great measure one becomes the person one wishes to make oneself. However, there are some given factors and realities that must be taken into consideration, but one must not allow these to become limiting obstacles. Some of these limitations can be seen as insurmountable obstacles, but when viewed as part of one’s constantly changing reality, they can become enhancing and transporting experiences. For example, I was born on an island. The sea was a constant presence in my life. The island with its beaches and coastlines could have limited me, but instead I saw it in terms of the world that lay beyond. The sea was a promise out there. Contemplating the sea and its horizon, its vastness, its overwhelming size provoking fear and respect, provided my first adolescent questioning and my search for the meaning of life. I spent long hours pondering in front of the sea, asking such questions as: “Why am I alive?” “Why must I die?” I would respond to myself: “I want to be me forever. I do not want to be part of a fish or the chemicals that will make a tree.” The answers provided by science did not satisfy me. Neither did the religious explanations that offered eternal life and resurrection on some future judgment day.
Coming into contact with writers who were inspired by the sea offered me a perspective. I delighted in Julia de Burgos’s “Man River,” in her poem “El Río Grande de Loiza,” (Loiza’s Great River), which spills over into the sea and is able to kiss and caress other people on the other shores of the world.
Through literature, I later found a poet who rejoiced and philosophized contemplating the sea. Pedro Salinas, the Spanish poet, wrote his beautiful poem “El Contemplado” (The Beholden) about our sea,