What mental or emotional connection do you experience when you see or hear the word, WAVE? Please feel free to offer that up in the comment section below as well as anything else that you may want to share.
What sparked this blog was my visit to the ocean on May 2. I started in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, and made my way slowly, stopping frequently along the shore, 40 miles, to Santa Cruz. The beaches, the rocks, the flowers – all beautiful and the waves were spectacular, whether crashing against the rocks and sending spray vertically into the air or gently folding over and rushing in on the sand. The day was clear, sunny and cool, in other words, ideal. These kinds of waves need little explanation or description for they speak volumes, along with the water, tides and currents. These ocean waves are most commonly caused by wind and are created by the friction between wind and surface water. As wind blows across the surface of the ocean or a lake, the continual disturbance creates a wave crest. These types of waves are found globally across the open ocean and along the coast. How do these kinds of waves speak to you and some of life’s larger issues?
There are sound waves, waves of compression and rarefaction, by which sound is propagated in an elastic medium such as air. These vibrations are called traveling longitudinal waves, which we can hear. Thus we hear the music or the wind or the waves crashing. Sound waves consist of areas of high and low pressure called compressions and rarefactions. The wavelength of voice is about one meter long. The wavelength and the speed of the wave determine the pitch, or frequency of the sound. Wavelength, frequency, and speed are related by the equation speed = frequency * wavelength. Since sound travels at 343 meters per second at standard temperature and pressure (STP), speed is a constant. Thus, frequency is determined by speed / wavelength. The longer the wavelength, the lower the pitch. The ‘height’ of the wave is its amplitude. The amplitude determines how loud a sound will be. Greater amplitude means the sound will be louder. It’s why musicians use amplifiers. When someone says, “we are on the same wavelength” what does that mean for you?
There are also electromagnetic waves and here’s an explanation of light waves, ultra-violet or UV rays, the appliance in most kitchens, the microwave oven, bluetooth, TV and others.
Then there is a wave of despair and its counterpoint, a wave of hope. Each of these phrases uses the metaphor of a wave to describe an experience where one feels overtaken or washed over, almost drowning OR catching the wave and riding it like a surfer. In the 2018 election cycle there was a so-called “blue wave” which turned the House of Representatives into a Democratic majority and a greater number of first-time women elected. Some saw hope, perhaps others saw despair. You may not remember women who were called WAVES — Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service — a division of the U.S. Navy created during World War II to free up male personnel for sea duty. President Roosevelt signed a law creating the WAVES in 1942. The Army equivalent were the WACS, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps created also in 1942 and converted to active duty in1943. Where do you see hope and where do you see or feel discouragement?
A very familiar wave is the wave of a hand, often the wave of good-bye (“god be with you”) as a kind of fare well blessing. You can also wave two hands back and forth crossing each other or simply hold up both hands to signal, “Stop!” A wave can also be a greeting of “hello” and one easily recognized is the royal wave of the Queen, a hand held up while gently rocking slowly side to side. I’m sure you have seen that along with a wave of a celebrity to a crowd of people. It’s the same kind of wave used as a distant signal of recognition. Hands making waves without words and communicating effectively. Apparently the word “hello” did not come into vogue until the advent of the telephone. Think of some places and times where you use your hands by waving. What is your intention?
The Third Wave is a 1980 book by Alvin Toffler. It is the sequel to Future Shock, and the second in what was likely meant to be a trilogy that was continued with Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century in 1990. The first two waves were agriculture and the industrial revolution and now we are on the cusp of AI. What Toffler said was The Third Wave, “is a work of large-scale synthesis, an identification of a process already begun, a prediction of good things to come through technology that gives reason to challenge the chic pessimism that is so prevalent today.” Ironically, Steve Case, a co-founder of AOL wrote a book by the same title in 2016 with a similar premise regarding technology. How do you regard technology as a wave? May your experiences with waves bless and enrich you with their gifts whether of water, light, sound or hope for the future. Stop. Watch. Listen. Learn.