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Photo by Frank Park on Unsplash

Why do so many people cry when they see the ocean for the first time?

Have you ever witnessed something in nature that inexplicably made you cry? You think you're good—just happily enjoying some beauty or wonder of some sort—and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the tears just start flowing.

A viral video of a young woman from Oklahoma having that experience while seeing the ocean in person for the first time has people saying, "Yep. I get it."

At first, the woman just laughs out loud when she sees the ocean. "There's no ending! There's no ending!" she exclaims as she walks down the boardwalk toward the shore. Then, as she steps onto the beach, she has to pause and and put her hands on her knees, clearly overcome with emotion.

"Damn," she says, wiping away tears. When the man she's with wraps his arms around her, she sobs.

If you know, you know. And looking at people's comments, a lot of people understand her emotional reaction to witnessing the awesomeness of the ocean for the first time.


I’m glad I captured this moment. ❤️

♬ original sound - Gena Camp

People reacted to the video on Reddit with their own stories of overwhelming awe at the natural world:

"The first time I saw the ocean was a big deal for me too. We drove all day, got there in the dark, and my wife, daughter, and myself stood in silence for a good five minutes in awe. The ocean is the only thing that's ever given me a religious experience." – Automaticwriting

"I was coming home from a business trip and was miserable after a long winter travel day. When I got to the hotel there was a dude out front that looked like he was on drugs. Mouth slightly open. Staring up at the sky and kind of circling. I asked if he was OK. He told me he had never seen snow before. It made my day. I hung with him for a bit to soak it in." – tinsinpindelton

"This is how I reacted during totality of the eclipse! I was surprised because I was looking up at it and then… suddenly I was crying?? lol" – alison_bee

"Such a beautiful reaction. You can never understand the powerful connection we have to nature until you have finally seen something you have always wanted to see in person…you should hear my kid talk about the Sequoias…" – Unique-Pastenger

"As someone who has never lived more than 1.5 hrs from the ocean, I felt the same way when I saw the sand dunes in Tunisia, awe inspiring." – IronicINFJustices

"I remember going into the Rocky Mountains for the first time a few years ago. We made it to a peak and I looked out into the continental divide and just cried. I’d never seen something that made me feel so small." – Choco_tooth

People also shared how the ocean still affects them, even when they see it frequently.

"I've lived within 2 hours of the ocean my entire life. I can't fathom what it must be like to see it for the time. To feel it. To smell it. I kinda feel that way every time I go to the shore." – timothypjr

"I cry when it’s been a long time and I see it again. It’s a powerful thing. It’s so deeply a part of us, our heritage, our survival. I could smell this video." – -Disagreeable-

"I've seen the ocean hundreds of times and i still act this way lol"diogenessexychicken

"I live right on the ocean and this is my reaction everyday. 🏖❤️" – NoCauliflower1474

There's something awe-inspiring about the ocean—its immense power and deep mysteries, the diversity of life it contains, the way it connects us to other lands across vast distances, the continuous rhythm of the tides, the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, the soothing blues, grays and greens it reflects. Perhaps there is something primal within us that it speaks to. Maybe it hits us the way a sky full of stars does, making us feel tiny in the grand scheme and putting our lives into perspective.

Whatever it is, when we see someone else profoundly affected by it, so many of us can honestly say, "Yes, I feel that too." Awe may hit us at different times and be inspired by different things, but the experience of it truly unites us all.