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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

The Secret of Waves


The ritual is set early in the morning after study. Go to a site with radar images and look for where the green blob that is characteristic of the Pacific Northwest is NOT going to be. If it is absent from the coast, go to the site that measures the tides and look for ones that are abnormally high during the daytime followed by exceptionally low ones. If there is a strong wind predicted, so much the better. Check and recheck the calendar to make sure there are no pressing real world tasks. And then, if all of the stars align, head for the sea.

Like moths drawn to a flame, my husband and I are compelled to rough seas and deep waters. To stand on a sandy shore and watch as it disappears in an ever encroaching surf is a miracle that unfolds in the making. The sea coughs up its human debris and remnants of the earth’s natural beauty as logs intermingle with flotsam and jetsam, tossed and rolled helplessly in the surges and retreats of an incoming tide.


What is it that compels us there, we have wondered, as have several of our friends. What thoughts abound when standing on a jetty pummeled by reckless waves? What fears encroach in the crushing, incessant roar of sound that takes no breath or break?


Perhaps it is simply this: in the listening and watching, we are reminded of our insignificance, and our human striving and planning wash away in the convulsing sea.

It is impossible to stand in the presence of twenty foot breakers and not be reminded that a power infinitely greater than our own has taught the seas to go this far and no further. As they crash skyward and dissipate in the air, their spray cold and soft, so do our own obsessive thoughts. As the jetty stones shutter, overcome by the surge, we too can recognize the uselessness of any struggle against the forces of nature put in place by the Creator of the universe.


No amount of human striving or planning can change the course of these waves. No amount of worry will keep the tide from the shore. And no misperception about strength can stand in the face of an encounter with rising seas overcoming human endeavors to keep it tamed and safe.


And so we come here, to these waves. We come here to embrace our frailty…to be reminded that any sense of self- importance is an illusion of grand delusion. We come here to let these waves, these winds and these shores remind us that this life is but a whisper, a soft note in an ever changing symphony written and rewritten on every new tide.



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