For the first time in my life, I am lucky to be living close enough to the sea to be able to hear it from my bedroom window. Late at night, when the traffic has stopped and all the Spanish voices lingering and chatting on the street corner beneath our flat have finally gone to bed, the sea’s soft and rhythmic sounds can be heard. There is a kind of ongoing hum to it, when the sea is rough it is coupled with the hypnotic sounds of the waves breaking on the shore. Prior to this new-found live-action hypnosis, I would play these same sounds on my iPad: sea waves crashing with a thunder storm layered over it. There is just some kind of primordial soothing that comes from these types of sounds. At times, when my wife and kids have gone to bed, I will sit out on the balcony and just take it all in, like the immortal words from the movie The Castle, “So much serenity.”
It’s striking at times how peaceful that feeling can be. Even in the midst of massive storms, where you have these gale forces winds and the waves just smashing against the rocks below, there still is contained within the movements of nature a simplicity and repose that’s hard to describe. What makes its peace so attractive is how it contrasts to our own human contribution to nature. Nature is as it is, yet we are at war: with ourselves, with each other, and with our ideas of who we are and of how others should be. Frenzied, blind, frenetic and stressed would be apt words to describe our inner and outer states. Voltaire said, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains,” yet to me it seems man is in chains and everywhere is free.
I battle daily with my past wounds that seem to haunt me, my destructive and habitual coping mechanism, and my expectations of who I am and who I think I should be, yet my inward struggles are just a mirror of the external dynamic. The collective and individual selves just keep mirroring and feeding into each other’s wounds. All around us, our global culture works to educe in its population an insatiable desire for more, be it more food, more clothes, more money, more love or more control. The cultural meme of “more” is incompatible with whatever we have within the present moment. Nature is at ease with itself, though we seem not to be. We seem dis-eased. I think this is why we are so intuitively drawn to nature, be it the mountains, oceans or rivers. We instinctively gravitate back to that unquestioned “is-ness” that nature so effortlessly and joyously emits. Its direct presence helps us quell that ceaseless war within and helps buffer us against that rub of the war that surrounds us. We don’t need God above in a distant heaven to pray to when we have multi-formed and multicoloured gods before us in the sun, stars, land and seas.
I have a deep desire to surrender against all I fight and battle with. Inwardly, I think it’s an illusionary battle fought against invisible ghosts that feed off the knowing that V-day will never arrive. Surrounding us, there are more real battles in which the stakes are high, as our future rests within the outcome of what will be the forces that truly shape our collective destiny. Yet, if there is any hope, it lies somewhere in that magical sound of those waves outside my bedroom window. To radical leftists fighting against maniacal corporate sociopathy, I know that sounds like abstract waffle, but it’s not. Until we really hear nature, do we stand any chance of hope, not in a metaphorical sense, but in a literal action of listening to what the earth shares with us? The secrets of who we are and what we are capable of becoming are there to be understood and discovered in the whispering of the trees, the light of the sun and the soft glow of a full moon.
The author of Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein, once said we need to be in the business of making miracles if we stand any chance of a sustainable future. It’s a statement that really resonates with me, as that peace the waves gift to me is its own mini-miracle. So is all of the peacefulness that nature hides in the clear light of day. If I really want to make some kind of significant contribution toward making the world a better place, I have to really take responsiblity for the war I wage within myself and the war I wage with the world around me. I have to not win that war, but transcend it. I have to let the sun melt it, the waves dissolve it and the stars engulf it in vastness and magnitude. The impact this has on the greater whole, I have no idea. What I do know is that nature has spoken, and I have to listen. As in doing so in a tiny pocket of the universe, in some tiny pocket of this world, there will be a little more peace and a little less war, and that is a good start.