What an ocean wave teaches about getting through the tough times.

“Heartbeat.” If you pay attention, nature shows you the way through tough times. In a breaking wave, I am reminded that love is all around us.
“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and in its depths, it has its pearls too.”
–Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

When drama smacks us down like a strong wave, getting through the tough times is even tougher. 


“The Great Wave.” What started as a piece of metal with paint overspray, scratches, and corrosion looks like a rendition of the famed “Under the Wave off Kanagawa.” 

Doesn’t it seem like there’s an endless parade of drama in the headlines?

drama-spelled-out-in game-pieces-as-a-synonym
“Drama.” It’s all fun and games until we start hurting. And that’s what the endless flood of media drama has done to so many.

This week the sky literally seems to be falling.

Objects are floating way over everyone’s heads, literally and figuratively. Before chicken little appeared in the media, a blistering polar vortex descended on an extensive section of the country. But that cold front is now forgotten as old news because the west coast has a cyclone storm bomb smashing into the eroding coastline. Then there’s a little scrolling bulletin about an earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Hello: that’s over 30,000 gone. In a heartbeat.
If you stay out of the storm’s path, away from the shaky ground, and the militant posturing around the globe doesn’t paralyze you, remain tuned because we are all being replaced by AI computing.
Kidding. Or maybe not.

Make the drama stop!

It’s taken me a long time to comprehend that I can’t wish for all these “events” to stop. That’s pushing against a force with more energy than I have. And hoping for an end to take a breath means you are drowning in drama.
“Stop Those Thoughts.” Paint peels away the message “STOP.” But how do you stop the endless media messages that send fear into a tailspin?

Why, why, why?

Asking “why” is draining. Someone once told me “why” is not spiritual. That was probably 7 or 8 years ago. I couldn’t resolve that statement in my head at the time. And then it recently hit me.

“Why” is analyzing something that is in the past.

“Why” is delving into the past. You can’t change the past. And if you ponder about the past too long, you’ll squander the moment begging you to be present.

Waves are like incoming information.

Like van Gogh’s words, many types of waves are coming at us. And wishing them not to build and spill over is worrying about the future. We can’t control what is coming toward us. And, if we do worry, we allow the present to pass by.
See how this works? Distractions constantly test us about living in the present moment.
Life doesn’t remain as a smooth, glassy surface like a calm ocean. In the depths and surges, we are tested. Those tests ask us to go within for strength.
“Doing and Being.” Like water and motion, we balance doing and being. Waves have a lot to teach us. Maybe that’s why the shore is so attractive and relaxing.

Turning within to get through the tough times.

And then within lies another test.  There’s that “Part X” in our heads. That’s what Phil Stutz, sought-after shrink to Hollywood, calls it. And that voice tries hard to derail us.
After watching “Stutz,” a documentary Netflix film about Phil Stutz and his therapy work, I thought about Part X. Jonah Hill created this documentary to make Phil’s work accessible for the rest of us that don’t have Hollywood credentials or megafunds. And the message hit home.
By the way, I just caught my Part X whispering about money, fame, and that killjoy of comparing. Did you notice that?

Part X tells me no one wants to read what I write.

“Your writing isn’t anything special.”
“Boring! Too long.”
“People don’t read anymore.”
“That photo? Really, what were you thinking?”
“Why even try to reach people? It’s a waste of your time.”
“What are you spending on maintaining that website, huh? Gonna blow what you’ve worked hard to earn, and then what will you do?”

Losing sight of our interconnectedness.

That Part X character wants to pull us underwater. It wants us to lose sight of our connection to the rest of the universe. And drown without noticing the love that is all around us trying to offer a hand.
Then Part X has us for himself, all alone and isolated. He is a workaholic, always seeking another angle to derail us from feeling the zest for life.
Watching “Stutz” is a treat; Jonah Hill is both funny and serious at the same time. He and Phil Stutz are both vulnerable in the film. I felt a bit vulnerable myself in writing this post. Mental health has come a long way, but it is still a difficult topic. I’m thankful for Jonah Hill and Phil Stutz putting forth the effort to bring this topic out in the open. If you are interested in reading more before watching, just click this link to Netflix.

How do we tame Part X?

Phil helps people understand that our “life force” counteracts Part X. “Life force” offers love and interconnectedness. If you get lost in an activity and feel joy, that’s “life force.” Maybe these are simple moments, the little things we typically take for granted. Perhaps you find joy in petting a dog, smiling at a stranger, baking, drawing, or singing. Each of us fuels up this strength in our own way. But we all access that energy at some time. The more you feel that “life force”, the more zest you have for living. Just as it takes effort and vigilance to notice Part X, it also takes a bit of effort to notice what brings you joy. However, if you don’t make an effort, that’s when Part X takes over.

When anxiety and depression take hold.

I should know. I let my guard down and let Part X run rampant for at least twenty years. That’s when anxiety and depression took hold. Part X loved that.
He can keep you in a deep hole that’s hard to climb out of. But somehow, I knew that wasn’t the way I wanted to live the rest of my life. I got help. I worked hard. I slowly restored my sense that I was not alone and part of something larger than myself.

“Transparency.” Be open and vulnerable. That’s when you are in touch with your true self. It took some soul-searching for me to offer part of my story here, but I felt that with Jonah Hill and Phil Stutz being open about their emotions, it was time that I could share that as well. We all have times of struggle. Know that you are not alone.

How to recharge your life force.

I recharge my life force by being curious, seeking beauty, and finding calm.
My surefire way to feel that joy is by looking at my art. I can spend a few minutes looking at one photo deeply and feel better.
I also experiment with my photos. I call it play. That’s how I started “Art in Motion.” Last week, I added the floating hearts to the sea spray on my wave photo, “Heartbeat.” Yeah, I looked at it like 18 times already.
Music can also move me into that space. And now that I am learning piano, I can make music. So that’s a two-for-one deal of happiness.
Then there’s writing, which I’ve loved doing since my childhood. My inner energy loves it when I sit down to write. Hours can go by as I dissolve into the page.
But sometimes, I don’t feel like being creative. Of course, that’s a Part X thing. Call it writer’s block or a case of the blahs. That’s when a walk or hike with the sun touching my skin and a breeze stirring helps to break through the tough times.
Part X has difficulty competing if I am trying to decipher bird songs on my walk. It’s as though I’m stretching and pushing him aside. There’s just no room for Part X if multiple lesser yellow goldfinches are calling back and forth. Nature knows just what we need.
Some days I have the strength of the pounding waves. On other days, I feel beaten and battered with low energy. That’s when I feel like a shell washed up on shore, exhausted.  Tossed around and left on the sand to be trampled by a beachcomber.  There’s no shine left on the shell. Holding the shell to your ear, there’s only a little echo of distant waves left.

All waves have crests and troughs.

And that’s when I focus again on rising back up—brushing the sand off. Symbolically, I find some loose thread on the beach towel to pull on that reminds me I’m part of the fabric. 
Life wasn’t a promise of a relaxing ride on an inflatable pool lounger with a cup holder. Every day cannot be a chill day. But I remind myself that I am human and allowed to feel. So I just don’t let myself stay in the trough of the wave longer than necessary.

Life is like the pulse of the ocean.

Relieving yourself from worry, fear, and resentment as often as possible is a self-loving act. It’s a continual motion, easier at some moments than others. But the cumulative effect is powerful. And it spreads from you to others around you.
If I tried to distill the purpose of life into one word, I’d choose “love.” That’s why I chose this particular ocean wave photo. It bursts with love.

Love gives us purpose and fathoms of meaning. 

Everything that is stressful lacks love. Some of the hardest situations and most difficult people require us to dig deep for that kind of love. And sometimes it’s best to love from afar when your own health and welfare are at stake. 

From the experience of riding the cycles of tides and outlasting the surge of storms, we are gifted. On sunny days, notice the promise of millions of sparkles on the water’s surface. I think of them as souls dancing. Mine is right there with yours.

I feel fortunate to be on this ride. And sharing it with you. I hope you discover lots of pearls.



Make room for art!

Decorate with ocean wave photography for getting through the tough times.

Head silhouette with Grand Canyon layers inside

Have you watched "Stutz" or read "The Tools?"

Let me know in the comments below. And I’m almost finished reading Phil Stutz’ book, “Coming Alive.” Check it out!

Let's ride this wave together!

Discover more peace with abstract photos that tell stories. 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This