A splash speaks. A wave talks. Surf seduces with its sounds. Tides tell time.
In my last blog post I wrote briefly about relationSHIPS - and their different, yet related topics of courage, acceptance and difference. In my posting entitled Relating Different Ships, I recalled a 17-year-old standing in front of his schoolmates in 1985 describing his volunteer experience helping a 13-year old boy during the Special Olympics trials at his Quaker school in Philadelphia. His helping another less fortunate appeared by itself a kind and altruistic act, but he did so at first begrudgingly. Initially peer pressure and guilt had moved him to volunteer. He wasn't very excited to be "wasting" and “sacrificing” his time.
It took him a whole day to become comfortable with his discomfort. It takes time to change. His transformation from "oh, this is lame" to shame for his own “apathetic attitude” to a deeper appreciation and respect for a courageous cerebral palsy 13-year-old-boy was his story. But the whole story revealed a greater transformation.
Voicing, sharing, confessing his discomfort and vulnerability in front of a large audience was his opportunity to impact a community. His insights, his actions, his authenticity, his body language and his voice so touched our small school, not a dry eye was observed in our assembly hall that day. And obviously, that moment still resonates with me today. It has always been a reminder to me about respecting and embracing differences. And the power of speaking and sharing one's own humbling truth. And in those 5-minutes I listened to the boy's story, I realized why I had chosen education as a career.
So as I contemplated what I would write about for this blog post, I realized it seemed only fitting and natural to share my voice by sharing other' voices. And voices that are heard every day, but not always understood or appreciated. Voices that often transfix the listener who often does not know or understand its language or its message.
“And the voices in the waves are always whispering to Florence,
in their ceaseless murmuring, of love - of love, eternal and illimitable,
not bounded by the confines of this world, or by the end of time, but ranging still,
beyond the sea, beyond the sky, to the invisible country far away!
As a young boy I remember an early "aha moment" when I realized not everyone experiences life the same way. At the time I had fixed yet mistaken belief that if chocolate cake tasted amazing to me, it would be equally tasty to others. It was, after all, the same cake. But my epiphany that not everyone likes chocolate, changed how I viewed others. What a surprising revelation - Not everyone loves cake! Ah, at the time I thought this difference seemed like a very good thing...more birthday cake and icing for me, I concluded.
Ah, now much older, I experience difference differently. Difference now appears even more interesting and more exciting perspectives for me and for less selfish cake-eating reasons. Now I am fascinated by listening to differences rather than listening to same old - same old. Maybe I have a better trained ear now, but more probable, I am vastly different from who I was 30 years ago. And of course, we are all different. It still fascinates me that one of my close friends at nearly 70 years of age ALWAYS listens to GOLDEN OLDIES.
“I spent uncounted hours sitting at the bow looking at the water
and the sky,
studying each wave, different from the last,
seeing how it caught the light,
the air, the wind; watching patterns,
the sweep of it all, and letting it take me.
Over the years I have discovered that many hear the sea speaking to them. Yet, not surprisingly now, I know many who don't experience the sea the same way as I do. They hear differently than I. The sounds of the waves lapping or crashing upon a sandy beach or the sounds of tidal flow on a rocky breakwater. They emit different sounds. Some are scared, some entranced, some mesmerized, some joyful. A calm or a stormy sea speak differently. Just close your eyes and hear the differences.
Since the sea connects us all, I thought sharing different voices about different experiences from different seas might sound and resound our experiences. So this blog post I have collected different human voices (their words actually!) that speak about the different sea sounds and voices. Notice the various messages the sea sends us. Notice what humans hear when they listen to the sea.
Humans have voices inside them. And maybe the sea does as well.
The sea doesn't appear to listen or hear mankind, but the sea speaks. It has a voice. When we humans have a voice, we have a say. When we have a say, we can communicate our inner differences. We express what we want and what matters. But what we hear doesn't always mean what we think it does. We are humans, after all, listening to a sea voice that speaks a different language.
The sea makes a difference in our worldly matters and she makes sure we have heard her. Even if she doesn't know we hear the meaning behind her voice. Of course, as far as we know, the sea doesn't really listen to us. It is humans who have to learn to listen because the sea has a big say and humans have a big stake in understanding her voices.
“The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper;
I cannot quite make it out.”
The Sea Howl
And the sea yelp, are different voices Often together heard: the whine in the rigging, The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water, The distant rote in the granite teeth, And the wailing warning from the approaching headland Are all sea voices, and the heaving groaner Rounded homewards, and the seagull: And under the oppression of the silent fog The tolling bell Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried Ground swell, a time Older than the time of chronometers, older Than time counted by anxious worried women Lying awake, calculating the future, Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel And piece together the past and the future, Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception, The future futureless, before the morning watch When time stops and time is never ending; And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning, Clangs The bell.
The Dry Salvages
"The sea complains upon a thousand shores."
~ Alexander Smith
I hate to be near the sea, and to hear it roaring and raging like a wild beast in its den.
It puts me in mind of the everlasting efforts of the human mind,
struggling to be free,
and ending just where it began.
“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.
The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”
~ Kate Chopin,
How the Sea Communicates
How Humans Experience the Sea