Last week in Anthropology
class, I was just about to zone out into my usual mid-class stupor when something jumped out at me from the professor's mouth. "The waves are laughing, the waves are laughing;
" he was repeating this to the class, rhythmically chanting
almost, and in the giant lecture hall it had a beautiful, hollow effect. This was the phrase an Australian aboriginal
tribe had used to describe the sea when the east wind
was blowing over the open water and the tide was coming in.
Our professor was at a loss to describe it any other way. He had lived with the tribe for almost twenty years, and even they couldn't put it into different words. This was exactly what had prompted thim to experience it for himself. "The waves were laughing," he claimed. "I don't know how to explain it. All I know is I just sat there on the beach chuckling away to myself--laughing with the waves."
It was only an obscure example used to demonstrate the power of experience over study, but it struck me in some mystical, fundamental way (I tend to be rather prone to mystical strikings, I guess :). I have always considered a wave as a symbol of my own creative drive, strengthening in certain situations, and petering out in others like a wave being blown about in the wind. It builds up. It falls over. It crashes into me with the power of an ocean if I'm not careful. It is essentially connected, yet essentially alone at the same time. And the greatest things about it is, it moves. This movement, this subtle dance on the surface of something huge, is what reaches inside me and gets me going. I want to make things move. I want to make things dance.
My therapist asked me to describe how I feel when I write, but not in words. She handed me a giant mass of clay and said "Go." WIthout really thinking about it, my hands moulded the great grey shape into a wave, curling over at the top, catching the moment right before it breaks and builds up all over again. She was confused at first (so was I), but as I explained it - the creative drive, the power, the movement, the beauty and at the same time the giant fear, she got it. I'd never been able to explain this to her before.
So now when I think of this wave, the phrase chants in my head: "The waves are laughing, the waves are laughing." It is not just one wave, but the tiny rippling of every wave together on the ocean. I like it better this way, better than a stiff clay individual thing. I guess when I think about them all moving together, I don't feel so alone. I think about the people in my life as a part of my life, as a part of something bigger, something moving, rather than a single me. "What I actually saw was waveform, its Abiding Presence repeated again and again and again countless times as a separate dimension--as an illumination--over and above the flow of the waves themselves." Yes, Mr. David Turner, you are right.
Maybe I'll go down to the ocean someday, when the tide is coming in, and think about these things. And maybe I'll laugh. And maybe I'll do a little bit of dancing, too.