Of all the views afforded by beach and sea, the one that enchants me most is that of crashing waves. Whether they be large, small, or barely existent, waves are always there, and that is where I fix my eyes most often. At the time of this posting, we are there.
Hours are being spent in a flimsy chair, under a flimsy umbrella, staring at the incessant inflow and outflow of briny water. Sometimes the waves crash with a deep, hollow-sounding thud, which hints at their power; sometimes they lap against the sand with a liquid whisper, showing their gentility. But always, they are coming in and going out—for eternity, as far as I can tell.
The consistency of waves gives us a sense of the passage of time and a feeling that our lives are but a hiccup on a continuum. If this makes us feel insignificant, though, it is soon countered by a profound sense of wonder at nature’s timelessness and vastness. We just as soon feel a part of it. For the meditative, there is an attraction found in this dichotomy of insignificance and participation. As regards meditation, it is worth saying that the off-season invites this very state of mind. If soul-searching is on the agenda, few settings are as conducive as an abandoned beachfront, a few feet from the water, watching a red sun emerge from pink-orange clouds and then drop beneath the horizon.
Some time during my meditations on this border between land and water, I had the notion of crashing waves as portal. The portal exists in the imagination. It inhabits the quiet and reflective corners of the mind. It blossoms upon the minutes and hours spent staring into that rollicking, roiling churn at the beach’s declination. The crashing waves are a passageway between this world and another—not necessarily the afterlife, but a parallel world. We can play in the waves, but we cannot cross over. The other world can be known only in dreams, where the soul swims through coral caverns with wondrous and mysterious creatures in a bottomless, aqueous vacuum.
After lengthy spells at the water’s edge, watching and listening, it becomes possible to feel transported, like the soul has been sparked. It is similar to the sensation one gets before certain paintings or in a balcony at the symphony, when a rare lucidity grants us heightened awareness of the finer points of art and nature. It is as though, all of a sudden, communication has been achieved with another realm, with the unknown, with God. This is an effect of the portal.