I've been paying a lot of attention to waves recently. That's par for the course on Maui, especially if someone is an avid boogie boarder, like I am.
The first few days after we arrived, there were some decent—though not exceptional—waves breaking on the left side of Napili Bay. I had some stimulating rides. Nothing like my "washing machine" experience back in 2004, however (which is good).
Today, like yesterday, the surf has been boogie board unfriendly. Fairly large, but not breaking cleanly. So I've been working on catching waves from the beach—thought waves, which can be done anywhere, really.
You can try it right now, wherever you are and whatever you're doing (which I assume at the moment is reading this blog post, unless you're a multitasker).
The game, or goal, is the same as with ocean waves: blend with them. When you flow with waves, that's the most fun. When the waves go under or over you—not so much fun. When you crash into a rock, least fun of all.
The thrill of surfing and boogie boarding is when you're in the right spot as a breaking wave comes along. It picks you up. You merge with the wave, insofar as that is possible, you being a human body and the wave being water.
It's a quasi-spiritual experience (avid surfers would disagree, saying "Dude, it's a totally spiritual experience!). For isn't the basic notion of spirituality becoming one with something greater than yourself? God. Tao. Buddha nature. Holy Spirit.
A big wave—yeah, that too.
But each of us also continually surfs our own stream of consciousness, and the thought waves that arise in it. To my mind, this is where the sport of spirituality is really played. Religions conjure up a distant concept of divinity that can't be united with, because it isn't here and now, but there and then.
Our thoughts and emotions, though, are always right at hand, coursing through consciousness. Most of my waking moments are accompanied by some sort of inner commentary (verbal or nonverbal) on what I'm aware of.
Walking down to the beach this morning, I encountered a man and woman on the narrow oceanfront path. He was leaning on the railing, staring at something or other in the water, legs extended, totally blocking my way.
My first reaction? A thought: Geez. Does he think he owns this path? He's not even looking to see whether anybody needs to get by. Actually it was a lot more wordless than these words—closer to a mild feeling of irritation than a string of coherent mind-sentences.
His companion tapped him on the shoulder. "Someone's coming," she said. He moved with a "Sorry." "No problem," I told him. Which was true. There wasn't one.
Except, I'd done a crappy job surfing my own mind wave. I was flowing along just fine, grooving along to my on-the-way-to-a-Maui-beach mood, until I saw that the path was blocked. Then it was as if I'd bumped into a reef rock while setting up to catch a wave.
Ouch. What was that?! Not in the right place.
It's interesting how often those mental mind rocks jarringly interrupt the smooth flow of consciousness. Usually I barely notice them—those frequent sensations of irritation, not-rightness, impatience, and such—because they're so commonplace in my everyday life.
Here on Maui, there are fewer externals that mess with my mellow. So I'm more attuned to my self-created inability to let experiences cascade along without me "wiping out"—big time or little time—because I wasn't able to let a thought wave arise and fall naturally with no interruptions or blockages.
Three years after I asked bloggishly, "What is it about waves?," I'm still looking for the answer. Water waves, mind waves—equally fascinating.
Never-endingly so. Like I said back then, as now, it's all about flow.