An essay on the physical phenomenon of waves, movements, forces and emotions.
Waves – a physical phenomenon of the surface of a body of water. Influenced by currents, wind and earthquakes sometimes to immense and destructive size. At other times, gentle and small , seemingly caring movement, but always beyond the control of humans. All humans by shores of bodies of water, or in another way being on the water, do study and interpret waves. Waves are happiness, despair and grief representing emotions and physical forces, of which we have to relate to in an extended choreography, but never disciplined and void of instructions.
Emotions are like waves and the cycle of life is like a wave. No one can ever step into the same water twice in a river, neither in a lake nor in the sea. Ponds however might give the illusion of representing the ‘stagnant’ always the same – still it is an illusion. Even a pond is a body of water in interaction with its surroundings.
Having studied big disasters at sea, talked with survivors and relatives of those that died I realise that humans face the uncontrollable and again and again must fate the futility and limit of their seagoing devices, whether ships or oil-drilling vessels. Waves hammer constructions with a tirelessness of sledge-like blows. Sometimes for long times moving slowly and others, sometimes moving rapidly.
My interests in waves are two. The number one is navigating and survival of the waves of stormy weather. The other is the emotional aspect. In stormy weather both emotional and physical are just a matter of survival and coping with a challenge. One that can turn into the end of human existence. However, reactions are different and even in emotions – no wind and no challenges might be lethal. In the time of sailing vessels, being in the doldrums was dramatic. No movement, just the complete and lethal calmness.
Being with humans that has lost their dear ones at sea. I encounter different reactions to waves. Quite a number describe them as reflecting their own emotions. They represent grief, anger, despair, comfort, reflections and relating to the existential. For some, they represent the forces of God and what is beyond human control. Some cannot face the sea after the loss of a dear one and a great number find comfort in walking along shores and reflecting on the waves and with the waves. One wife that lost her husband told me that she had to be by the sea to cope with his death. She found great comfort in seeing the sea- whether in storm or in calm conditions.
Somewhere beyond the surface, her dead husband had his grave. “The Sea is the greatest cemetery in the world,” she said – and told me that her prayers and what made her cope with his death was the waves. She brought their children to the seashore. They watched the seagulls and storm petrels skimming the waves. The latter only to seen in moonlight conditions, black shadows just visible above the foaming surface of big waves. “I guess, I imagine them more than see the storm petrels,” she said – having read about them and thought they represented the greatest mystery of the sea and the night.
She came from a family of sailors. Men had died at sea for generations. Still as she said, the doldrums are worse. The calmness of the mirror-like surface after death and destructions. There were no tears, only the numbness. She had to return to the seashore to see the sea crash foaming onto the beach and rocks in order to feel like she regained her mental self. Her children were a great comfort, but the sea and the waves made her close to herself and the memory of her dead husband.
Reading the waves is the essence of navigation, either in relations or as a sailor. The words were from a fisherman of a small archipelago of islands at the coastline of Helgeland in northern Norway. His main navigational skill was, in his opinion, his ability to read the wind, currents and waves. Skills as ancient as man have used boats. Waves are information of what to come and what is in the past. The waves after a big storm are different from those warning of a new storm. His wife was the same – all waves to be understand and taken into consideration. I guess, as he said, I am the same all waves. He emphasised his love of the sea and his wife and coped with the waves of them both. “The good thing” he said “is that “she copes with my waves as well.”
To recap, emotions are likened to waves and the cycle of life is like a wave. No one can ever steps into the same water twice, whether in a river, neither in a lake nor in the sea. Ponds, however, might give the illusion of representing the stagnant , the always the same – still it is an illusion. Even if a pond is a small body of water, whether waves or ripples, ponds do interact within the surroundings.
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