I gingerly picked up the painting by its frame, hanging it proudly on the hook that I had recently nailed into the wall. It made the pale wall that stretched down the hallway come to life. What once was a vast expanse of dull grey now held a treasure, a picture, a story for everyone to look upon. I dusted off my hands, dry and calloused from all the housework that had been done that day, and stepped back. My head tilted to the side as I glanced over the image.

The painting was called the Ninth Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky. It was a beautiful picture of the ocean at sunset, the teal-colored waves rocking and heaving a small raft back and forth. The raft held a few men, clinging on for their lives. It reminded me of all the times I had visited the beach before. I had never been able to go out too far into the ocean for fear of drowning or losing sight of my family. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I'd ever go too far into the sea. I had always held a fear and yet a fascination with the ocean. The uncertainty and beauty of the waves captivated me and drew me in. Yet I had a sense of caution that revealed itself inside of me when I'm too deep out into the waters. All of those feelings resurfaced as I look at the painting before me. I was comforted by the waves yet unsure of what would happen next.

The painting told the story of shipwrecked survivors, fighting for their lives in a frightening, yet beautiful ocean storm. Anyone could plainly see that they were in danger of being swallowed by a large wave up ahead. The ninth wave, I thought to myself. However, there was an assurance, a beauty, almost a willingness about the painting. The ocean and the sunset somehow hinted that there was a chance of endurance. Despite the danger around the survivors, there was a breathtakingly beautiful scene around them that demonstrated the power of the ocean and the vulnerability of men.

I saw that the ocean could be merciful to the travelers. Perhaps their raft came upon the crest of the wave, and as they rose up into the air, they received a triumphant view of the gorgeous sunrays and a rescue boat to bring them in to the shore once again. This hopeful tone was another thing that washed over me. The fact that the survivors would see their loved ones again fits with the hopeful tone of the painting, the beautiful colors showing the graceful transparency of the waves.

Suddenly, I remembered that I had a lot more house work to do. My thoughts returned back to the window boxes that needed to be planted. I walked away slowly from the painting, looking at it from over my shoulder. As I glanced over the painting only once more, I couldn't help but wonder if the survivors in this painting were battling the sea together for the last time, ready to face their death.

I could almost imagine myself on their meager raft, willingly accepting the fact that I was going to die after much struggle and torture I had found in the ocean. Yet, despite the troubles that the sea had caused me, it was giving me one last beautiful display of its power and beauty. The last of the world as I knew it would show itself in the most majestic and marvelous way imaginable. My tired limbs would give in to the gorgeous exhibition that loomed before me, and I would become enveloped by my beautiful death.