On a Beach Walk: No. 53 (Balance)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The waves of the sea act on the bob linked to a line connected to the fisherman’s pole. While noticing the up and down action caused by the waves crests and troughs, I think of the midline line between these two extremes – that point of relative equality or balance.

The continual up and down action of the seas brings seasickness to some of us. Not a pleasant feeling for those of us haunted by that natural action of the sea.

Compared to its sensory counterparts, balance seems to be a lost sense. That sense of stability primarily based on the three semicircular canals in the inner ear that are at right angles to each other. But each of us react differently to amusement park rides that spin, jerk, or go fast over the changing terrain of railed hills.

We forget or do not realize the roles that eyes and stomach provide in our balance – especially as we carefully watch the single railroad track as we walk with our arms outstretched as a balancing aid. As our bodies lean right, the brain quickly reacts to pull us left – but hopefully not too far because we want to remain on the rail.

The brain takes all the information it receives about position and reacts by sending messages to muscles to keep us in balance – the position of the ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, and head relative to space. Our body’s awareness to relative position and spaces allows me to walk calmly and steadily on the beach that is noticeably slanted by the water – but not as much as other days – so it seems relatively flat.

Balance has a rhythm – like that peaceful state while riding a bicycle with confidence.

I think about the various balances in sciences – these balanced forces keeping an object at rest or those keeping the object moving in a straight line and constant speed. Those balances between different populations in a food chain that are not equal in number, but balanced relative to each other. The balanced equations of a chemical reaction showing the same number of atoms entering and exiting the reaction.

The balance sheet of life made of our credits and debits for each of us to work through – and yes – some of those encounters are stressful enough to upset life’s balance. Let us not forget the difficult balance in life as dealing with forgiveness and tolerance.

The complexity of life requires us to find a manageable balance between work, love, and play. Work can consume us as we walk the fine line differentiating living to work and working to live. To some, it’s the love for what they do that drives the imbalance with play and love – for others, it’s the pressure to achieve.

Balance is a sense – an important sense – but balance has many applications to life. On this day I find life is good and not much stress because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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On a Beach Walk: No. 51 (Hearing)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Hearing the sounds of the sea as I walk is relaxing. The sequence of the upswell at the start of the breaking waves to the clap of the crest’s splash to the shoosh gently fading away. I even hear the popping of the tiny bubbles as water caresses my feet.

That sound is repetitive and constant while dominating the beach’s soundscape – but both similar and different with each passing day.

Hearing – the only sense relying on vibrations. The shell of our outer ear captures the sound waves of the sea and then directs those waves that we don’t hear then to the eardrum – causing it to vibrate. – which causes the 3 bones of the middle ear to vibrate – yet we do not hear.

The vibrating bones cause another membrane to vibrate – which causes inner ear fluid to vibrate – then nerve endings specialized to a particular wavelength of sound detect the vibrations – yet we do not hear.

Nerves carry the detected messages to a specialized section in the brain that puts all the messages together into what we hear. Ahhhh … now I hear the sounds of the sea that I enjoy.

I think of the classic holiday song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” because we apply our own perspective into interpreting sounds. What one enjoys, another may not.

Without hearing, sound is silence to the listener. They do not hear the emotions music conveys. They do not experience the sounds of nature. They cannot differentiate the soundscapes of the beach, the stream, the woods, and the meadow.

They do not hear the words of love, encouragement, support, enthusiasm, and wisdom. They do not hear the voice that gives one peace. On the plus side, they are protected from the political noise of partisan pickering, personal slander, and consistent vitriol.

I think of the animals in nature whose hearing mechanism is like ours – yet some are acutely more sensitive for protective purposes. Dogs have nerve endings for detecting frequencies beyond our upper range, so they painfully hear the dog whistle that we cannot hear. Deer, who detect a slight rustling of the ground caused by a seemingly quiet step by a human in the distance.

Hearing isn’t the same as listening. Some may say listening is sophisticated hearing. Listening is mindful attention to what is said. Listening is focusing on the spoken words, not on what to say in response. Listening is something we give someone – respect – a gift that connects us to others.

Listening stimulates our thoughts. Listening make one better. Listening leads to a great understanding. Listening connects humanity. Listening joins us with nature as we concentrate on the natural sounds while trying to apply meaning.

But, some favor being heard or hearing their own voice. Then again, maybe they simply favor telling over listening.

Hearing – a sense that we value – yet take for granted. Does listening to loud music through headphones at a high volume demonstrate a greater value for music than hearing? But what did I know then – or simply did I not listen to wisdom? Is this a reason for my hearing aids today?
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I have a choice when I walk. I can hear the wind or I can listen to it. Thinking about what the wind is saying or even letting the mind wander and wonder. After all, I like walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.