“[The waves] move across a faint horizon, the rush of love and the surge of grief, the respite of peace and then fear again, the heart that beats and then lies still, the rise and fall and rise and fall of all of it, the incoming and the outgoing, the infinite procession of life. And the ocean wraps the earth, a reminder. The mysteries come forward in waves.”
― Susan Casey,
Three years ago this month, I was in Florida for a conference. Since we had a rental vehicle anyway, a friend and I took a day to do some sightseeing, and ended up at the Canaveral National Seashore. It wasn’t exactly warm on the beach, but it was significantly more so there than in Iowa at that time, so we weren’t about to forego the opportunity to walk and sit in the sand for a while.
I remember watching the waves as they rushed onto the beach then pulled back out to merge with the sea. I had the strangest sensation (something to do with the combination of staring at sunlight on water, the overwhelming sound of the water, the rhythmic motion of the waves) that I, myself, was rushing forward, then pulling back.
And indeed I was. On the verge of major life changes, I felt my soul pushing me toward new shores, but my ties to all that lay behind me exerted an equally powerful pull to fall back into the sea of my then-current life. The fluid grace of the water lay in its refusal to fight for one or the other – rather, the water ebbed and flowed naturally with the energy exerted upon it. The waves, the water existing at the leading edge of that energy, had the greatest potential to change and be changed – it could change the beach or be changed itself by what it carried back with it. Generally, both occurred together.
I had been living in the vast ocean of my life for a long time, and suddenly found myself on that leading edge where change was most possible. I lived there, briefly, allowing myself to change and (in turn) creating change – carving new shorelines. But I couldn’t seem to find within myself the water’s ability to flow; I fight for control, insist on “deciding” – or, another way of saying it, choosing sides. Three years on and I still haven’t quite caught the knack of moving naturally with the energy waves. But here I am, still on that front edge, hoping to change and to create change.
I’ve been thinking about that day and that experience quite a bit lately. A colleague said last week, “Everything is about waves! Spooky action at a distance, gravity waves – all the discoveries are about waves! What are we supposed to be learning in our lives from all this talk about waves?”
Perhaps it is simply to accept the ebb and flow that is experienced at that leading edge of the wave we call “change”; to accept that change occurs over the vastness of time and in the immediate moment at once. Perhaps I am supposed to stop trying to control the pace and meaning of change and, instead, experience it as it unfurls.
“The mysteries come forward in waves,” Susan Casey says. And the waves themselves are a part of it all.
Run with the flood
Ebb when you must
Mount to the moon’s call
Dare, flow and trust
This tide has to be
Its force will not break you
Cannot unmake you
For you are the wave
And there is only the sea.