Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27: Waves

In a recent conversation with a friend about a surfing film festival he had attended, we both agreed that surfing movies were cool to watch because big waves are so fascinating. That's a simplification of the complex feelings many of us have for waves, which are truly energy made visible, manifestations of the action of wind upon the face of the waters. Growing up near the ocean, I have long loved watching waves.  My grandmother and I used to lie in bed and count to see if every seventh wave was the biggest. I would keep my bedroom window open in all seasons so that I could hear the crash of the waves upon the rocky shore, the rhythmic breath of the ocean. I paste a copy of Hokusai's 18th-century wood-block print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"--an iconic image that has resonates deeply for me--on the cover of all my journals. Look at the loving detail with which he represents the wave's foam, the curling crest of the wave like a bunch of reaching claws or an opening mouth about to engulf the small boats below:

And therein lies my personal problem with waves. Fascination is the flip-side of fear. Ever since I was tumbled by a huge wave as a kid at Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, I have been afraid of waves. This fear has expressed itself all these years in my dreams. When I was a child, I would dream that the waves on my grandparents' beach were rising over the bank to carry away the house with me in it. In addition to that specific recurring dream, my subconscious shares with me on a regular basis many variations on the theme. In some dreams I'm swimming, and high-crested waves are carrying me away from shore or threatening to drown me. In others, I'm onshore and a wave sweeps over me. Last night I dreamt that I was watching some big rollers crash on a beach. The water was transformed into muscular blue fists--you could feel the power as they drew themselves up before pounding the shore. I was marveling from a distance at how amazing they were when suddenly a rogue wave lifted me up from behind. I had just enough time to think that I'd be lucky to survive its hurling me onto the beach and tumbling me around. Then I woke up. 

I guess it's a good thing I didn't go to the surfing movie fest, if just talking about waves gave me such a dream. Imagine what nightmarish images all those translucent curling wave shots, all those surfers tumbling into the foam, would have planted in my subconscious. 

Waves roll through my dreams,
curling around my childhood,
washing all away.

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