What is it, exactly, about the ocean that calls to us? What is it about her waves whispering in our ears that fill us with the excitement of a child and the calm of a sage instantaneously?
Our ears wiggle to a music that seems to speak to somewhere deep inside of us. We close our eyes and listen to the singing seagulls and the chorus of crashing waves with smiles on our faces.
It’s a song that forces us to stop thinking with our rational brain. Instead, we let our bodies tell us what to feel.
Watching her waving waters as they dance to the steady beat of a lunar drum that we cannot hear, we begin to realise there is intention in nature. We feel a magical impulse, a divine will, a call to action, a collective soul.
We witness the energies of the universe as they swirl all around us. No one knows where they came from. No one knows exactly what they are. But now, in the overwhelming presence of the source of all life, we can feel them. Life’s energy.
It’s in this moment, gazing at her colossal strength and infinite beauty, that we realise that these are the same energies that ebb and flow within us. We look at life in motion and we say, “Ah, that’s who I am. I am that.”
Even if it’s just for a moment, we transcend our consciousness.
In this transcendental experience, we realise that we already live in the kingdom of heaven. We remember the promised land has nothing to do with real estate, titles, or deeds. We understand that nirvana is inside of us, exactly where we stand. We may even laugh at the all too curious realisation that we ARE the mystery which we are seeking to know.
The Gods didn’t kick us out of the Garden of Eden. We banished ourselves, and we continue to do so every time we lose sight of these simple truths. The ocean reminds us to come back into Eden and eat the tasty fruit of who we really are.
That’s why the ocean calls to us.
Or, maybe, you just like to surf and sun tan. And I mean, who doesn’t?
I’ve always found the term “social media” to be a curious one.
Admittedly, if you break the word down into its respective body parts – “social” and “media” – it’s a word that makes perfect sense. Yet it’s not its pieces that make it a puzzle.
The term feels like a misnomer. It doesn’t feel right. I look at social media and I fail to see anything social about it.
Media is not an inherently social entity. From newspapers to Fox News, there is no social interaction actually involved.
We may feel as though we’re socially interacting. Like we’re connecting with that horoscope columnist who just really seems to “get” us, or the newscaster covering our sports team who seems to always agree with our opinion of the new head coach.
But we’re not.
We’re still sitting alone at the kitchen table, keeping our eyes on the newspaper while we hurriedly force down the coffee we burnt before work.
We’re still messily finishing that crossword on the train with the stranger in a brown suit next to us as our only companion. And no, it doesn’t count as social interaction because we asked him for a four-lettered word for a famous son of Chronos.
The media doesn’t want to interact with us. It wants us to read, to listen, and to watch their version of what’s happening all around you. It wants to tell us what perception of reality to accept.
Social media, in turn, has taken us one slippery step further down this path of human isolation.
Social media has stolen from us our innate love of society; we have never been more antisocial than we are this very moment.
There was a time, before bullet trains and water spraying jet packs (which are pretty awesome for the record), when our nearest neighbours were fifteen kilometres away and the fastest method of travelling was on horseback. Yet we called on each other weekly, if not daily, to fulfil that natural desire to truly interact with other human beings.
Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” – Aristotle, The Politics.
Fast forward to today, and I haven’t called on my neighbour since before the first Jurassic Park movie came out.
Social media has negatively affected every (formerly) social activity.
I see us capturing moments – beautiful sunrises and breathtaking full moons – through Instagram filters instead of capturing them with our eyes and keeping them in our souls.
We write those moments as Snapchat stories instead of writing them across our hearts, as part of our own stories that are constantly unfolding.
We use the check in button on Facebook to let our friends know where we are and what we’re doing, instead of checking in with a call or catching up with a visit.
We’ve mastered messaging with “abreeves” but forgotten how to carry a face-to-face conversation.
We live tweet sports events from our couch instead of taking a road trip to catch a live sporting event with some friends.
We text acquaintances while we sit around a table with our actual friends.
We don’t notice the love of our life next to us in the cafe because our eyes are down on our phone as we try to find love on Tinder. They walk in and out of our lives while we’re swiping right and left.
We’ve exchanged real friends for followers and lovers for “matches.”
And yet, don’t we think it’s a little strange that, in a world of nearly seven and a half billion (7 383 900 000) people, so many of us feel like we’re alone?
It’s because we are alone. Every social media platform offers an additional layer to a wall we’re building between ourselves and those around us. Another filter. More paint on our masks.
We’re given the means to limit and skew the images of ourselves that we put out there, and everyone else is doing the same. It becomes a terrifying idea to show people who we really are, so we don’t. Everyone tries to be like everyone else.
We’re creating a world where no one will truly know anyone.
I think that’s a tragic thing, because the greatest protectors of the beautiful uniqueness and natural individuality we possess as humans should be all of us, together.
Governments and, further back, religions have always feared and denounced the individual; the threat to the status quo.
And yet, individuals such as Copernicus, da Vinci, Tesla, Picasso, and Einstein did amazing things by questioning that same status quo, by letting their unique thoughts and feelings be their compass.
They didn’t follow tradition, and we celebrated them for it.
I’m afraid we’re starting to lose that. We’re falling into line.
Not because of fear or oppression – those things could never break our powerful spirit – but because of distraction.
The irony of it all is that I’m communicating this via an outlet that was only born in the age of social media, and sharing it on multiple social media platforms.
I think our advances in technology and our ability to connect with one another is astounding.
I’m thankful for Skype, Instagram, and other means of keeping in touch with all of those that I love and miss at home.
I just think it’s important that in our quest to be more connected, we don’t severe our connection to each other; that we don’t become the snake that eats its own tail.
Recognize each other. Appreciate someone when they do something differently, wear something strange, or embrace their authentic self in any way at all.
You’ll find people start encouraging you to do the same.
When I think of the word substance, I think of weight. I think of density. A bowling ball, a newborn baby, a dying sun. I think of what actually makes up the matter of someone or something, beyond the mask or façade on display.
We attach varied levels of importance to things tangible and intangible according to the meaning and value they have to our individual experience. Yet the word always carries the same meaning for all of us.
When we say something is of substance we are vouching that it possesses a depth beyond that which can be recognized on the surface, and that depth is essential to its meaning or existence. Substance is the existence of something beyond what we see and, more often than not, it is something of value.
Humans are the perfect example of what it means to have substance. We are much more than the surfaces we allow each other to see.
We are never skin deep. Each one of us is the result of the hundreds of thousands of intricate internal and external relationships and experiences. We appear to be made up of seamless and simple skin on the outside, yet internally we are a patchwork of a million personal pieces unique to ourselves.
It is this chaos inside of us, and not the calm surface, that makes us human. It is what separates us from one another; it is what differentiates us from the similar skin we’re all sharing.
Your internal substance is the part of you that isn’t easy to read or boring to learn about. The vivid and unique oils of your internal landscape are a personal portrait. Consistently being altered by the paintbrush of life, each stroke of colour adds to an already endless wonderland of adventure and intrigue.
So why then, are we so obsessed with hiding our complexity?
We meticulously maintain and groom our shallow surfaces. We carefully polish our vast array of smiles and we rehearse our jokes – for those are the weapons we’ll arm ourselves with during this weekend’s social campaign.
We place an unhealthy importance on the mastery of crafted emotions; our gasps of shock and fits of laughter must be believable and emphatic. We carefully iron out our faces after our trousers and we use the same mirror to apply our emotions in the same way we do our lipstick. We spray on our personality with our fragrances. We wear around our necks the persona we want others to see and then we hang Tiffany pendants and wooden crosses from them.
Our outward expressions, no longer useful tools in demonstrating the inward feelings we ignore, have become gadgets we use to accentuate our surface appearances. They serve the same purpose as our Marc by Marc Jacob clutch that matches our new Prada pumps or our Burberry tie that creates that must-have contrast with our Armani suit.
We’ve somehow began equating our surface with our substance. We’re only as beautiful as our most recent Facebook profile picture, the filter we choose for it, and how many likes it receives.
Our experiences are summed up in small collages and uploaded to Instagram, its value judged by how many people stamp their approval with little digital hearts.
We’re only as healthy as our body-fat percentage tells us we are, or the amount of gluten we avoid. Our spirituality is defined by the colour of our Lulu yoga mat.
We’ve forgotten that there is an entire world inside of us. It is a world full of experiences, memories, ideas, ambitions, and beliefs. It is a place that would take a lifetime for us to completely explore.
Yet we’ve never cared to examine or maintain this inner kingdom. Our inner selves have become, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, crudely sewn and stitched together with ideas scavenged from the surface. Surface-deep ideas of what the superficial world insists makes us a whole person.
Instead of planting the seeds of wisdom, acceptance, confidence and self respect in our endless internal garden, we’ve left the weeds of ignorance, denial, doubt, and loathing to grow in their place until they strangle us.
The demons who feed off of these negative plants – such as fear, jealously, sadness, and paranoia – have grown strong and have multiplied. They prowl unchecked in the shadows of ourselves, and have become the tyrant kings of our domains while we have become strangers in the only place we can truly call our own.
Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
So maybe skip the hair /nails /tanning appointment or the gym today (unless its leg day – don’t skip that). Find a patch of grass and sit in silence. Watch your endless thoughts drift slowly by like the calming stream that they are. Trade in your typical Saturday night debauchery for something that inspires real growth. Instead, sit around a table with a few close friends – turn off your phones – and really connect with one another in real, human conversation.
Whatever you feel inclined to do, take some personal time and trim the rabid weeds strangling your soul. Plant the positive seeds of wisdom, acceptance, confidence and self respect that will grow into the beautiful garden you can be. Take back your kingdom, even if it’s inch by inch.
Do a little bit every day. Like Rome, you won’t be built in a day. In fact, you’ll never stop planting, cultivating, and exploring yourself. As a child of the stars, you are as limitless and as endless as the beautiful universe from which you came.
You are dense. You are full of substance. You are perfect.
Be good to each other,
Photos Courtesy of:
Cover Art:Storm At Sea (1820-1830) by J.M.W Turner Star:zodiac-compatibility.tumblr.com
Meditating woman: odishasuntimes.com