A bright, sunny, hot morning – I was sitting on one of the beach lounging chairs, feet put up, staring into the endless, azure expanse of the ocean stretched in front of me just across a small stretch of sand. I had been sitting here for a good part of an hour, just looking far out into the water. Sitting at a beach in this manner for hours is not a new experience for me; yet, it was different today.
I love beaches – no, I am not the sea-bathing types though I don’t mind floating on waves once in a while. I just love being around the sea. I love walking on the wet strip of sand between deep waters and the dry shore. I love looking into the sea or ocean and going into a reverie of thoughts, memories, ideas. Often, sitting at a beach like this, I have wondered about the length of time oceans have been around, and how much they have seen and endured, about the secrets they hold in their huge dark fluid bellies about times begone, about creatures that inhabited and now inhabit their depths, about what has happened, and what’s going to happen.
I have watched with wonder, waters reflecting different shades of blue and green, responding to the varying angles and changing intensity of light falling on them, as the sun makes its way through the sky and as clouds filter its light in different ways.
One of the things I have always enjoyed at a beach is the sight and sound of waves. There is something soothing about that soft swoosh of the sound of a wave, gently amplifying and then waning on its own, while a new swoosh is rising in the backdrop. The swirling surround system effect in this sound has a surprisingly calming quality to it that has always helped me to feel settled, no matter how unsettled I may have felt before. And then the sight of waves forming and breaking – a calm sea in the background with just some innocuous, gentle-looking movement of its water as it plays with the wind, seems more vigorous and urgent in its movement as the water comes towards the shore, showing up waves in their rising, bulging, ballooning form; and then as they hit the shore, they break into a foamy, frothy flush. I have often marvelled at the combination of different energies and forces of physics that result in the formation of waves – such a beautiful phenomenon of nature that gives so much joy to watch and hear.
So, gazing into the sea and watching it break into waves is not new to me. Often have I sat at or walked on a beach, in silent conversation with the sea, pouring my woes and worries into its expansive, welcoming embrace, feeling better just by doing so and then soothed into comfort by its calming presence. I thought today would be the same, but it had been different.
Today, as I had watched the waters from my relaxing perch, there hadn’t been many thoughts crossing my mind. That incessant chatter of my inner voice was absent – no concepts of science trying to explain why a patch of water looked bluer than the rest, no internal clamour as my mind was figuring out why a wave is formed, or why it breaks at one point on the shore but not at another. I was not trying to have any conversation with the ocean or with myself, I was not trying to think through or solve any problems of my life sitting here at the beach. I was just sitting and watching – I saw the shimmer of the water under the blaze of the sun, its myriad handsome hues, its rising and ebbing waves; I saw bathers’ heads bobbing up and down in those waves; I saw walkers and runners leaving their fleeting footprints on the soggy sand – my eyes were seeing it all, but my brain, surprisingly, was not bothering to process any of it beyond registering it. I was just taking it all in, not trying to interpret it, not trying to understand it, not at all trying to reflect on it or reflect in it. Just being in it, being a part of it, watching, hearing, feeling it unfold and happen. And all this happened naturally, not by design.
This was a completely new experience for me, one I would not have thought myself capable of – I did not think I could ever “do nothing” in this way; yes I could sit still but never thought it possible to force the talkative voice inside me to be still, and for so long! Yet here it was, silenced into a spell by the simple uncomplicated charm and calm of nature. When I got out of that spell, it had been a reasonable period of time (too long to believe) – it felt like waking up from an unintended but beautiful nap, feeling rested and restful, except I knew I had not been napping or sleeping. It felt wonderful.
Maybe this is what “being in the moment” means, a phrase I had never understood so far. I loved taking something in just as it was – without thinking of it, judging it, analysing it, without the need to have a conclusion or closure to it. How did this happen? The trigger to this was my little inner voice going completely silent for this time. Somehow, the ocean had managed to put it to sleep, maybe by leaving it literally dumbstruck, allowing me the space and freedom to experience the moment without the noise pollution my inner voice normally creates, allowing me thus to be in the moment. Yes, this is what “being in the moment” must mean, and it was truly beatific.
Funnily enough, now fully awake from its temporary sedate state, that inner voice had promptly gone into its full garrulous top gear of talkative thinking 😊. As I felt myself smiling indulgently at it while it chattered away to glory, there was an “aha” – so long, I always thought that this voice and I are one and the same, but I suddenly realised that I am not my inner voice, I have a different identity from it. I realised, not without a twinge of regret, how I normally just mix my identity with it, allowing it to rule my life. Probably for the first time I was consciously separating myself from it, and it made me feel free.
With this new realisation about “being in the moment” and about being in charge of that inner voice, I am now keen to see how I can put it to “sleep” once in a while on my own, of my own free will. I will definitely try my hand at it. So, yet again I come away from my friend the ocean, awash with a fresh new wave of realisation, which I will ride on and try out, to learn moment by moment to be more in the moment.
~ Musingly Yours