• Yearning, Waves & Agony
  • JournalOceanSenses

Yearning, Waves & Agony

Dangerous Beach by Ayala Moriel
Dangerous Beach, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

I'm reading Diane Ackerman's Natural History of the Senses - a thought provoking book, that is also sensually inspiring. It's amazing how our world relays first and foremost on our senses, how our senses limit our perception and contain our experiences within a certain range of decibels, light frequencies, odour perceptions and and also free us.

Strangely enough, the chapter I was most inspired by is actually the one on the sense of touch. There is so much emotion and expression tied to this sense, that when we are deeply affected by something (or somebody), we say "we are touched" by it... Although this sense is considered a "lower" or "animalic" sense in the hierarchy the Aristotle created (he viewed hearing and vision as higher, more refined or intelligent senses as they don't require direct contact with the object they are sensing - something that of course we could argue otherwise, with what we now know about light waves, particles, etc. - it's not as if nothing touches the eyes to stimulate vision!) - there is so much power to it and it is so commonly overlooked in our everyday life... And now that I've just completed the chapter about hearing, I'm yet again awed by the power of sound and the nearly magical effect of music on our psyche.

"...no end to the yearning, longing, rapture, and misery of love: world, power, fame, honor, chivalry, loyalty, and friendship, scattered like an insubstantial dream; one thing alone left living: longing, longing unquenchable, desire forever renewing itself, craving and languishing; one sole redemption: death, surcease of being, the sleep that knows no waking!” - Richard Wagner, of his Tristan und Isolde prelude ...

When nothing seems to soothe my soul, and I feel that I can't breathe, let alone inhale a perfume; on days when even the most beautiful music feels like it pinches my heart and hammers on my brain from the inside - disturbing whatever bit of peace I may have left, instead of providing an outlet for powerful emotions -- on days like this, I turn to the ocean, and am thankful for its proximity and healing power.

As I lay on the beach, I become aware of my skin being caressed by the wind, my toes dipped in the gritty warm sand and occasionally tickled by sand fleas. The waves reach for the shore, as if quietly licking my wounds... Their repetitive whispers quiet my mind, full of heart-clenching melodies charged with too much emotion... Each waves does not return to the ocean empty handed – it brings back a handful of tears, which might be why the ocean is so salty… And I begin to swim, every inch of my body embraced by heavy, cold water that shares my burden and lightens my load of sorrows by dispersing them evenly among the myriads of H2O molecules… And sodium chloride… and fish and algae - whose smell I begin to detect because finally I can breath.. And with each breast stroke, the world seems bigger and more full of wonders. And even a sudden death at sea (by a boat or a musk rat – ahum, disappointingly this was the only wild creature I swam next to this year…) does not seem all that bad if I will become a wave and take someone’s sorrow away. Wagner and his fellow Romanticists were so wrong… Death is not redemption in the sense of eternal rest and end of suffering (too bad for Ophelia, Isolde, Romeo & Juliet who lost their lives over love just because they couldn’t wait long enough to get over a breakup before taking up their own lives)… It is merely the beginning of another life form(s) and energy redistributed in the universe.

The waves remind me that everything is temporary. Can you even tell where a wave begins and where it ends? And when does the next wave begin? The waves are energy, flowing within the fabric of the universe, constantly changing, and carried in many different forms and patterns. And just when things seem to go only downhill, another peak arrives… And just when we think that the pain is unbearable and we can’t take it anymore – its peak is over and it withdraws and disappears without leaving a mark. The most beautiful things in the world don't last forever, but so does pain and suffering. It's all part of something bigger - life, the universe - we are a small part of it, and whatever we experience has its place in the greater scheme of things, even though we cannot always understand the whys and the hows. We just have to be.

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