Aliveness and awareness have waves. Their tides swell and fall within our individual yet intertwined lives. Deeper tides of receding and revival inform generations, species, and eras. Each of this planet’s six great extinctions has been followed by life flourishing in wild and brilliant new forms. I’m grateful for nature’s resurgent revivals.
I grew up within range of the ocean, where I discovered that our illusions of isolation wash away on the seashore. By the steadying sea, our connection to everything alive is apparent in the life-giving water. I still take refuge in the spaciousness of the shoreline; the soul cleansing effect of the pure breezes; the depth of the life beneath the waves.
The seashore is often my refuge for personal revival. After I beat cancer young, my second life began on a Hawaiian beach near where my father lived. I often sought the sea in the recent pandemic too, especially after the passing of my mother.
Now I’m on the shoreline of the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, basking in the Mexican warmth at the south end of Loreto Bay. I’m incredibly grateful to be this alive here; to be alive anywhere. Another long tough stretch has receded. I’m at a new moment of revival.
The sunrise over the Sea of Cortez doesn’t speak English. Neither does it speak Spanish, nor any of the other languages and dialects I hear in Baja. Sunrise speaks a transcendent language of light and beauty. To witness it is to fall into a natural, mindful silence anyway. The hush of beauty leaves spoken language superfluous.
In my silence, I sense how grace and intelligence inform everything. I sense it acutely in the pelicans, abundant on the Mexican shoreline. At first glance they’re odd creatures, with their long beaks appearing out of proportion to the rest of their bodies. Yet they’re majestic in flight, as they gracefully glide mere inches above the water. They’re also deft fishermen, diving accurately to catch sushi for breakfast. Their expansive gullets can hold vast amounts of fish. Their sleek feathers are an inspired living design. All in all, their genius is expressed through them, not merely contained within them. Their inherent intelligence transcends their minds. Their aliveness has levels beyond their awareness.
It’s the same for all living creatures. The sleek grace of a passing pod of dolphins contains wisdom as well as curvaceous beauty. The tiny whir of brilliant hummingbirds has artistic composition and color no human imagination could’ve brought to life. They’re as much a masterpiece as the immense canvas of the grey whales, as mothers and calves birth another generation without need to ponder how.
Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Human seekers have long asked that question while gazing out at the cosmos—often while not noticing the intelligence coded in every living, breathing being at their feet.
I’m in awe of octopus intelligence, which extends independently into each of eight arms. I sense the intelligence of the waves they’re under, each wave containing countless lives and an essential part of one greater life. Aliveness even extends to the bedrock of the cliffs and sea floor, without which none of the rest of life could be. There’s even a living genius to the molecular patterns of stone. There’s genius in sea shells too; an aliveness of pattern and beauty that persists long beyond the lives of the sea creatures who once inhabited them. Everywhere I look, within everything, there is beautiful brilliance and grace to behold.
So let’s take this moment to revive our awareness of that brilliance and grace within ourselves. Yes, our souls are ragged, and our careless lifestyles damage the earth. Yet within even the most troubled human soul that genius of spirit is inherent. We’re each an exquisite expression of the universal waves of aliveness and awareness, reviving, receding, reviving once more.
All it takes is a revival of our own awareness, and the brilliance of the world glistens once more. All it takes is another shared deep breath, to begin to notice and heal.
Revival will happen within and beyond us, even without us—for the language of sunrise will speak its transcendent brilliance again in the morning, awaiting our notice as much as our own persistent grace. We’re all on course to reach the eternal shore, with the light of morning pouring out through us as we stand by that steadying, unifying sea.