Friday, December 11, 2015

The sun, the wind, and the crashing waves...and happily absorbing their energy.

A clear November Day on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Pacific storms, this past week, have kept us off the water.

We took these pics on the west coast of the Island, near Tofino, about a three and a half hour drive from Base Camp 1. As always, eyes were drawn to the magnificent beauty of the incoming waves. The thought at the time, however, was much more a contemplative one. I remember thinking that every time we have been in such a place, where the vast ocean meets the exposed land, there is a profound sense of the "transfer" of energy. It's the same here, on the Pacific coast, or along the rugged coast of the Scottish North Sea...or anywhere. And it's more than tangible. The energy can be felt. It washes over you, with a "transforming" effect. There's a reason for that.

I was always fascinated by lessons learned in high school physics classes. (My life's vocation took a very different direction, however, in part because I am quite hopeless in any practical applications of physics or mechanics.)

One thing I've always remembered is "the law of the conservation of energy". (Excellent explanation here.) This law states that, in a closed system, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be changed or transferred from one form to another. Standing on the sea shore, watching, listening to, and "experiencing" ocean waves roll onto the beach provides a very real example of this.

Youth...braving the chill.
Just think for a moment about the origin of those waves. It's the sun. It's the energy of the sun that heats the atmosphere, the ocean surface, and the earth. Since this heating is uneven, there is a movement of air, which we know as wind. The sun's energy, therefore, has been transferred, in part, to the movement of air. The energy in the moving air in turn touches the surface of the ocean and the friction of that contact created causes waves to be formed. The energy, in the waves, moves through the water until it comes into contact with the shore, where it is transformed yet again.

The energy in the waves is then changed to heat, and sound, and the kinetic forces that swirl the sand and erode the rocks. Of course, it is far more complicated than that, but I will only get into trouble with those much wiser than I if I go any further with this very simple illustration. ;)

The point I want to make is simply that some of the extraordinary energy that is released by the ocean waves can be experienced and enjoyed by our bodies, minds, and spirits. Is that not why so many are drawn to places such as the seaside, where ocean waves meet the land and exchange and offer their energy to all matter and all life that would receive it. 

Could it explain why we feel so invigorated listening to, and watching, the crashing of ocean waves. At this time of the year many come to our Island from all over the world to "storm watch". The experience excites, and stimulates, and feeds the spirit. It can be truly nature at its dramatic best.

And is that not why some of life's most difficult questions find resolution in such special places? Is the sea shore, perhaps, one of those wild landscapes, those "thin" places of Celtic tradition, where we feel and draw deeply in, not only the transformed energy of the sun and the wind and the waves, but the very heartbeat and breath of this fragile, island planet. 

"I must go down to the seas again"*...a wonderful place to think, find clarity, and simply be.

*From John Masefield's poem, "Sea Fever".


  1. Hi Duncan, we're a long way from the sea but I understand. There's an "energy" in the mountains here, you can feel it and they make my heart soar! It's different but in some ways it's the same. Whatever it is, I think better when I'm out there amongst them! :>) Cheers, Gen.

    1. Hi Gen, many thanks for your comment. Yes, understood for sure...the mountains and the hills, they are filled with an energy that is easy to feel. We always come back from time on the trails equally energized, albeit often nicely tired out! :) Warm wishes to you.

  2. Having lived in the Netherlands for my first 26 years very close to the beach, the sea is the only thing I miss so much in Alberta. Every time visiting the Netherlands I have to spend a day close to the sea, walking through the dunes, watching and listening to the waves rolling in and I always have to get into the water no matter what the season,

    The ocean, such a magical and mesmerizing place.


    1. Hi Dick, "magical and mesmerizing"...I think those words sum up the experience very well. There's very little like an exposed coastline, and the energy you can feel there. Always great to hear from you. :) Warm wishes from us both.

  3. Yes the ocean is very magical. I can't imagine anyone not wanting to take the time to drive there as the experience and the beach is so uplifting! I try n get there at least once a year if not more. You're lucky D that you're so close to it in the land of kilts😉

    1. You are absolutely right, L. And I get your message - between the lines. Hehe! I may have missed an excellent opportunity to get back to those crashing waves when you suggested a trip out there. What was I thinking?! Well said. ;) Warm wishes.