This post was written in my journal, while sitting on a bench overlooking the Pacific, during a week-long workshop on Offering to the Divine at Esalen (I wrote about the overall experience here). This rumination on the sea is quite beautiful, and probably the only piece of writing I’ll share publicly from that week.
I’ve worked out why I love the ocean so much, particularly when there’s crashing waves. It isn’t the enticement of swimming in it that draws me: I don’t really enjoy swimming and I’m particularly scared of big waves. It is what the ocean’s sounds and sights evoke in me.
Sitting here in Esalen, its become abundantly clear. I’ve discovered that so many of little vantage points for privately gazing down at the waves as they pound the rocks below are positioned perpendicular to the incoming wave, as in, the huge waves are coming right at me. It is only my great height above them that makes me feel secure, otherwise its a slightly terror-inducing sensation.
The wave feels like energy first, rather than looks like a wave. And of course, that is precisely what a wave is – energy – but from this vantage point, I *feel* it. It feels like a dark welling up on deep energy, rolling up until it erupts finally in white foam on the rocky shore.
Gazing at that swelling of power makes me feel disoriented, spatially unsure of myself, a welling of terror and awe in me. It takes a few moments to recognise the visuals of a wave, as initially it just feels like a force of dimensionless energy is about to engulf me, even though I’m safely perched far above.
I then realise that this power surge has been building for a long time, travelling for miles to finally end up on this shore. It makes me feel even greater awe at the persistence and greatness of that surge, and curious about its source.
Where *do* waves come from? Are they just the expression of some great Divine manifesting as strobes of energy across the oceans, ending in a wave? It is nice to imagine so.
And then you start to ponder upon the meaning of life encoded in these waves. When you stare at them often enough, you start to see a pattern.
The waves always come. They feel eternal. They differ in size and frequency. You get a few medium-sized ones, then a huge one, then very little for a while until it begins again in a different pattern.
It makes me think of what we’ve been learning [at the Esalen workshop]… Are waves a manifestation of the Divine, sending us messages, some are obvious and they hit you on the head, others are more subtle and you could (and often do) miss them.
I have been thinking of waves not as signs, but as opportunities you can catch. There are always opportunities: some will take you far, some will be less impressive, some are just duds. Like a good surfer, you learn to read the ocean, and detect ahead of time which surge in the distance is likely to become a big wave. Remember, this wave has travelled through miles and miles of water to arrive at this moment, you really can’t have missed it if you’ve been paying close attention to the sea. Like the sea, like life.
I then started to gaze out even further towards the horizon. If you don’t look carefully, you can mistakenly think it is calm and flat out there. But on observation, you see the sea is constantly churning in a million different directions, each so counter-balanced it creates the illusion of stillness from afar, but in reality its awash with countless expressions of the Divine’s energy.
It reminds me that as mere mortals, we cannot hope to fully control or predict the motions of the sea, or the motions of the Universe. It is too complex, too eternal, too multifarious. You can imagine each of these tufts of water is an energy beam of opportunity headed to one person, but along the way its buffeted by the bypassing beams of other entities’ opportunities.
We are not alone. We are not special. We can only be as alert and observant as we can, and try to catch our opportunities and messages as they come, and hopefully they haven’t been too affected by others along the way.
But the ocean is also just one great expanse, every drop of water belongs to it, and together those drops create the majesty of this eternal sea.