WavesRæl H. Bishop

This past summer, I lived in a big coastal city. After two months, things took a turn for the worse and I had to move out. I found the city plastic and frustrating anyways. During my time there, I would go to the beach quite often. But not to swim or make sand castles. In the mornings, I’d walk with a book and a bottle of water and watch the sun dance over the horizon. In the evening, I’d find a vacant spot and watch the cargo ships sail over an increasingly indigo skyscape. It was very cathartic. I feel it’s the same feeling all cathedrals, mosques, and mandirs try to cultivate: a sense of awe and serenity that lets our minds meld and our troubles wash away.

I have a very beach-y metaphor for your consideration. The emotions we experience in our lives are like waves lapping onto a shoreline. All emotions are found in these waves. We get caught up in waves of anger, of depression, of pride and lust, of sorrow and shame, greed and jealousy, euphoria and ecstasy. They are strong, powerful waves. We all stand on these shores, but most folks spend their lives getting tossed and turned by these waves, smashed into the undercurrent and washed up to repeat the process the next day. What we need to do in the face of these waves is not to get knocked over by them, but to hold steadfast and let the waves pass. We observe the waves as they emerge, not “pushing back” and not “falling in”, but noting as they come and noting as they pass. The waves leave, and more take their place, but they’re all transient nonetheless.

I’ve tried taking this notion to heart since I realized it. I hope you can find use of this. The next time you’re caught in a slump, or a fit of rage, or in some all-consuming obsession, just remember that it’s another wave approaching from the distance. You have the power, the strength, the will to keep standing in its wake.

You are not these waves, these fleeting emotions. You are yourself. Γνῶθι σεαυτόν. तत्त्वमसि.

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