On a Beach Walk: No. 15

Embed from Getty Images

 

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The body of knowledge known by the human race is huge – yet most of us know so little – a mere fraction of the total. What each of us know may be equivalent to a handful of sand on a long beach – if that. It is a meager few drops from the water that I see.

As I gaze down this long beach, I recall the day a fellow teacher knocked on my classroom door. She was polling the staff about their knowledge about a topic on a 1-to-10 scale – to which I paused and answered 4.

Given our past conversations and her knowledge about me, she questioned my choice. “How can you say that when I know you taken classes and workshops, and then trying and implementing these strategies?”

I verified her points about me, but then explained my reflective self-evaluation as a relative point. My reference point were the experts in the field (who I named). “Compared to them I am no more than a 4 – but compared to my colleagues I am a 10 – and there is no way most of them an 8, 9, or 10.”

Yes, knowledge is relative. I look out over the vast waters of the Gulf of Mexico, no land is in sight, yet I know land is out there, but far away. Yet, while the gulf is large compared to the small pond in the neighborhood or the nice lake at a state park, it is small compared to the Atlantic Ocean – and even smaller compared to the Pacific Ocean.

I think of all the water found on Earth – in the lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, bays, gulfs, and oceans – let alone in the ground, the air, as glaciers and icecaps, and within living organisms. The seemingly vast water of the Gulf of Mexico now seem so small. No matter how much one knows, it’s actually so little.

Yes, my knowledge is the small amount of sand that touches my feet as I stare across the water then down both directions of the long beach. While water washing ashore signifies changing times, I still like walking the beach as it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Advertisements

On a Beach Walk: No. 14

Embed from Getty Images

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The vast water is the sea of knowledge – and the water seems unlimited. There is so much to know. Identifying the shells on the beach would be an accomplishment in itself – but a small one in a relative sense. Meanwhile, the body of knowledge continues to grow.

I think of Leonardo da Vinci who was remorseful in the final days of his life because there was so much more to learn that he didn’t know. In light of his accomplishments, what I know in today’s world seems so small.

The internet brings knowledge closer to us while phones have placed that knowledge at are fingertips and made it portable. I walk on a beach that is a world without wires, yet knowledge is a fingertip away in my pocket.

Today knowledge grows at an accelerated rate while technology changes even faster. I can’t imagine a life today of someone who has never embraced computers – let alone smartphones. That could be like a person trying to operate a sailboat in the deep waters without any sight of land and without prior knowledge of what to do.

That means no understanding of basic computer operations. No concept of entry and response. No clue of open, new, create, save, and retrieve. No idea of how information gets onto the cyber highway. No notion of seeking information that is fingertips away. No sense of determining the validity of information. A sense of being lost while staring over the vast water.

For those of us with knowledge of modern technology, technology changes – and as technology changes, we must also change – a change that must involve unlearning the old way and learning the new.

Water is a metaphor for changing technology. Change is trying to navigate in the raging waters of a storm while hoping for the status quo of calm waters. Change is also the calm water going across my feet – it’s continuous, expected, and always new – never the same as currents keep water moving.

In today’s fast-paced technological world, learning begins with unlearning – abandoning the way one knows. Unlearning to let the new way lead the way. Forgetting what was to let the new lead the way. Yes, old habits are hard to break, plus we have a tendency to protect ourselves from outward self-criticism. Nonetheless, unlearning is more important today than ever.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. (Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1970)

Although a fast-paced technological world surrounds us, I am thankful for technology …. and I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 13

Embed from Getty Images

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The vast water is the sea of knowledge – everything humankind knows. So many topics – each with width and depth. Not separate silos because topics intersect with multiple related topics.

Although the water have a degree of consistency over the millions of years, our knowledge has greatly grown since the European Renaissance – a time in history marking a rebirth in knowledge and art – a time for scholars, new ideas, and new discoveries as the scientific age was born.

Time as demonstrated that knowledge builds on itself. In reality, science builds information on previously known information. Although the Greeks proposed the idea of matter being composed of unseen particles, evidence for the atom is relatively new. From John Dalton’s proposed atomic theory in the 1820s, scientists have built evidence-based information about the atom with great detail.

Next came the atom’s positive and negative charges in the late 1800s-early 1900s; followed by the identification of protons and electrons. Neutrons were discovered until 1932. In the early 1960s, evidence about the existence of smaller particles known as quarks and their associated forces developed. Through all of this, the atom remains as the foundational structure of matter.

As I look at the sea, I’m reminded of how little I know and how much there is to learn – but the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. The sea of knowledge seems endless.

While knowledge is good for the mind, it can also wreaks havoc on the soul. Nonetheless,I like to walk the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 9

Embed from Getty Images

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The water is vast as far as the eyes can see. From the shallowest depths where the waters begin their retreat from the shore to the deepest of the deep – the depths of those vast waters are not uniform.

These waters contain much information about things we know – the living creatures and their interactions with each other and with the materials comprising the floor and the waters above. The shipwrecks tell stories about human life of days gone by.

The vast water is also the home to tales and fables. Those encounters with serpents and mermaids – a home of the gods and more – all spun from human imagination or ancient beliefs, some which live on today.

That vast water is an analogy for another seemingly endless landscape – the sea of information and connection of our daily lives known the Web – the internet. Just as the waters brings information to the shores for us to see, the internet brings knowledge to our fingertips for quick retrieval.

Just like the vast water of the seas, the internet hold tales and fables in the form of inaccuracies and half-truths that should be shifted and when found. We should not be like an unassuming fish grabbing any fisherman’s hook in their quest for food. That would be foolish – but many people do.

As I walk my mind suddenly shifts back to the vastness of the sea with its waves rolling ashore and across my feet. Unlike the internet, these waters remain a source for the unknown – the yet to be discovered life forms – the yet to be found treasures – the unknown that will be tomorrow’s known so it can have a place on the sea of information.

As I walk on the sand, the waters to my side are vast with information. At least for me, this is an interesting analogy as I walk the beach while refreshing my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 7

Embed from Getty Images

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The sands display a myriad of shells. Different shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Although they now lay idle on the sand, each was once a home for something alive – a clam, oyster, scallop, whelk, conch, or other Molluscan relative. Home for a comparatively simple life – a life born to eat so it grows and survives so it can reproduce then die. A life aiming at perpetuating the species so that species can fulfill its niche in nature.

A life with a collection point of nerves serving as its neurological center – but not a center of with emotions, intellect, problem solving, and complex communication. But a simple brain – one geared for operating body functions, movements, sensing, and responding. Sensing the presence of food or predators, the current’s direction, the water’s temperature, and more – to sense to react.

The numerous shells I see tell only a fraction of the story of what life in the water must be. All those shells contained a life – a life starting as a simple cell floating free in the water. A life that developed into a free-swimming larva or served as food for something else. A life that continued to develop into a young shelled organism or food for other organisms. Finally developing into an adult that can reproduce, yet also be a food source for other life.

No wonder adults release so many eggs as not all will get fertilized. Not all will survive the free-floating stage or as free-swimming larvae. Not all will develop into reproductive adults. No all will live a full adult life.

That’s the life of a mollusk – a clam, oyster, scallop, whelk, conchs, and others. Compared to ours, a life that is simple, but one that is ecologically important. Each fulfilling a niche in the intricate web of life on our planet.

This is what I ponder as I see the shells on the beaches that I walk. After all, walking is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 6

Embed from Getty Images

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I look out across the seemingly endless surface of water with no land in sight other than the sand in the visual periphery where I stand. No wonder the ancient people thought edges were at the end. Edges that sunrises and sunsets reinforce.

To think that this gulf is small compared to the seas – and the oh my of the seas being specks compared to the oceans. The amount of water on our planet is unimaginable – besides, most people don’t realize the bigness of one million – let alone millions, billions, trillions, and beyond.

All that sea water, plus the water of rivers, streams, lakes ponds, puddles, pools, glaciers, ice, and even underground – let alone in the clouds collecting as sponges before releasing the water as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

All that water that make our home blue – that refreshing blue from space – that pale blue dot in the greater cosmos that is an oasis in the vast desert of space. Yes, this is our home that I walk – a walk where I think as the water refreshes my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 5

Embed from Getty Images

 

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I am not a sheller, but they form a line as to say “Walk this way.” I am not a sheller but I give them the quick once-over as I walk. Even though I am not on a stroll or a hunt, sometimes one catches my eye – a design or a color – a fragment or a whole – small, medium, or large – so I stop to look as the water continues to refresh my feet.

I am not a sheller, but their colors begin to grab me as I pass. The colors of the rainbow they are not, but that spectrum occasionally shows itself on the inner surface if the light is right. Most of the outer colors are ranges of brown and gray. Sometimes the brown combine with red to provide orange – but sometimes the red appears. Some grays with so little white that they are black – yet a few with so little black they are white – let alone when they combine in different arrangements of colors in bands, streaks, or blotches.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The colors tempt me to create my own spectrum with shells – yet I resist by keeping my steady pace – but over time, I cave in to my urge.

Colors that can signify a species or possibly an age – even a variation of colors within a species just as the colors of human hair differs from person to person.  But the more I walk, the more the colors and designs affect me. Oh the diversity of life!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am not a sheller, but as I walk its defined line on the sand, I notice the ridges and grooves. Some are quite pronounced, yet others are so slight that we think the surface is smooth – at least until our light touch moves across the surface. Pattern can be vertical, horizontal, or both – and even random – yet the frequency of these pronouncements of nature can be many or few.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So many patterns that must signify different species within the a beautiful living world. Patterns and colors that are present for a reason that are part of the adaptations and variations in the intricate web of life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wonder fills the nature around us in our slice of creation – even in the half-mooned shells of calcium carbonate found along the sand as one walks … but only if one takes the time to look as they walk and refresh the feet.