Saturday, April 13, 2013

Breaking Waves

Repeated variations on a theme play out continually in nature. Variations like the micro-scale formation of snow crystals we imagine, the large-scale diurnal and seasonal cycles we experience, or the many variations of fresh and saltwater waves we see.
Breaking wave
North Piha, west of Auckland

Fresh and saltwater waves abound:

The underlying theme of a breaking wave is that the wave steepens until its crest becomes unstable, then breaks.
"The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to get sharper."
― Bertrand Russell
A shore break is grand, unrelenting, ever-changing, yet somehow the same. Breaking waves are the narrative of the ebb of flow of energy and the story of entropy.

Breaking wave on Lake Superior. Photograph by Tim Case

Each wave builds, crests, and dissipates its energy into a rush of white water.

Breaking waves fit into the cosmological theme of well-ordered to less well-ordered that plays out continually in nature.

Observing breaking waves is calming and meditative, if not hypnotic.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
Waves embody the repetition of a pattern. They demonstrate the infinite and subtle variations on how a single pattern can unfold.

The beginning, the middle, and the resolution of a wave is the same on a grand scale, but infinitely different in detail.
“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh