The ocean represents a mysterious spiritual force to Cen Long. The ocean has given him endless inspirations, and the music of waves holds sway over his dreams. Cen has said that “The songs of whales remind me of sirens.” He has always imagined a returning to the ocean, for to him, it stands as the eternal home of the soul.
As such, Cen regards those who wrestle their livelihoods from the bounties of the ocean with great respect. He often wishes to live like them and be one with the ocean. Balance and Strength reflects Cen’s maritime musing. The fisherwomen carry a plank eroded by the ocean. Their steady gait and buxom physique demonstrate a powerful will and strength, and also, the all-encompassing embrace of the ocean.
In contrast to Balance and Strength, works like The Lone Sailor and The Days of Wind capture the other aspect of the maritime attitude. In Balance and Strength, the human bodies reflect the grace and virtues of the ocean, in these other works, the body is the vessel of human souls that contend with the brutality of nature. Cen portrays the lean but toned bodies of men working against the natural elements, signaling the reality that humanity must wrest a livelihood from the challenges of nature. This aspect of his art reminds one of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, wherein he wrote that “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
The Chronicles of the Ocean is a collection of odes to the vast ocean and an affirmation of the perseverance of the human spirit.