Beadling Story Time - Episode 2 - Oceanography for the soul

by Becki Beadling

I stand at the bow facing north,
the sun warms my face.
I ride the waves beneath me,
as the ship moves up and down.
Nature's roller coaster.
Clouds paint the sky in front of me,
severing the blue atmosphere into sheets of white.

Forty days ago I knew the ocean.
I knew the ocean through a unix terminal window,
on a computer somewhere in the Sonoran Desert.
I knew the ocean in grid cells,
in finite differences.
The ocean spoke to me in integrals,
and spreadsheets.
In a million processors,
humming inside of an air-conditioned room.

Her mysteries revealed to me in physics.
In dynamics.
I knew the ocean in the language of Sir Isaac Newton,
Simone Laplace,
Claude-Louis Navier,
Sir George Gabriel Stokes.
I saw the ocean in figures, in graphs,
in abstracts.
Forty days ago, I never knew the ocean.

Forty days ago, I was Eulerian.
I saw the ocean, calculated her velocities,
and watched her pass by.
I was fixed.
Now, I travel with her.
A lagrangian particle,
lost in the ebb and flow of her ever changing currents.

For forty days the ocean spoke to me.
In waves, in tides, in electronic signals piercing through her waters.
She spoke to me in rain, in sun, in storms.
In the bitter taste of dramamine slipping down my throat.
In unbalanced footsteps.
In flasks, syringes, bottles, beakers, and maps.
In degrees, minutes, seconds.

I close my eyes and listen to the waves crash into the side of the boat.
Wind smacks against my face,
nearly lifting my hat into the air.

In six days I will be back in the desert.
But for now,
I escape back into her waves.
I listen to what she tells me -
what no textbook conveys,
no grid cell captures,
no equation contains.

Oceanography for the soul.

Sunrise over the Pacific, on our way to Tahiti


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