Are we ever really on the same “wave length” with someone else (let along multiple others)? What does that even mean? And not figuratively – I get that – but literally: what does it mean to be on the same wave length / in tune with / picking up what someone else is laying down? It seems as humans we’re always wanting to be in syncopation with others when that, more often than not, is not natural. The reason I say this is not because we are unable to find some momentary alignment, and often times extended periods of shared rhythm, but that when that tempo is disturbed, it often wrecks, or more accurately, derails, that rhythm. Think about all the friendships, relationships, affections, infatuations, preferences, favorites, etc. that you’ve left by the wayside; the “wave” ended. There ceased to be shared frequency. And that is not always bad, or even often bad, that is life, and that is the evolution of the individual. But if we’re always doomed to fall out of step with someone or something, why do we put so much stock in seeking that alignment in the first place?
It seems that humans are merely gluttons for punishment. We were “designed” to fall apart, as was every living thing (I guess I should say we evolved to fall apart, really), so shouldn’t it follow that our relations – social, tactile or otherwise – should too? When I think of “wave,” I always think of surfing. This is a sport (activity?) that I’ve done maybe a dozen or so times in my life, and I’ve generally always enjoyed it, even though I was never very good at it. But there was always something about fighting the ocean and waiting for that *perfect* break to come in and trying to get up to ride it to shore. Mostly I lost my balance immediately and was left to wait once more, though there was still some enjoyment, maybe even some strange feeling of success, in the failed attempt and the opportunity to try again. Eventually, I would always get at least one, and for those few fleeting seconds I owned a feeling of victory and freedom that is often out of grasp on land. And I’m not even a water rat. No, sir. I prefer the mountains. But I digress, as usual…
Those waves are metaphorical, I guess, in that even the best surfer knows they will not catch every one, and that even when they do, they’ll run their course in short time, even those big 70 foot waves the pros chase; they’re all only in existence for a brief moment before they evaporate, crashing into the sand, and retreating back out to sea to form anew again. Those waves, and life itself, are a series of regenerating, though distinctly different, opportunities for success, failure, exhilaration, escape, and sometimes, death. So to run with the metaphor, being on the “same wave” with someone must imply all that as well, no? I guess one could argue that surfing a wave is a sped up version of a life and our interactions and relationships with others, perhaps, but even so, every wave crashes, every surfer seeks another wave to ride. Just like Sisyphus pushing his rock… So, would it be more appropriate to approach every interaction, friendship, relationship, attachment, etc. as something that simply will crash inevitably, and likely soon? Maybe.
For when two surfers ride the “same wave,” it often ends in conflict or mayhem, especially if they’re not very good. And if they are good, well, typically one beats out the other anyhow. If they get lucky and both get to ride it all the way in, well, you know what? The wave ends eventually and neither is still on the “same wave” any longer… So, I guess we should aim for being in the moment – I mean that’s what being on the “same wave(length)” is anyways, right? Oh, you caught me. The “wave” we should be talking about is the radio, not the surf, so let’s explore that now.
Nevermind that radio is a largely forgotten medium, a former giant that is a shell of its former self, and nevermind that radio is clogged with commercials, tired repeats of songs, blowhards hocking their eccentric and often disturbing opinions, etc.; to be on the “same wave(length)” on the radio, I guess, would involve being dialed into the same show, right? In this instance, we’re being fed the same garbage, and metaphorically we’re enjoying it together (or at least hating it together). But just as the surf wave, the radio wave is not static (that it often is encumbered by static, especially when you drift out of range is another topic), it is fluid and subject to change. The same “morning zoo” or “afternoon drive at five” gimmicks only last a few hours; the top twenty countdown always ends at #1; the DJ always goes off air.
So, no matter how we choose to unpack this metaphor – or countless others – we find that everything is meant to end, and often in a few hours, if not seconds. Much like we shed our cells, they say we’re a completely new person every seven years; whether or not this is scientifically true doesn’t matter, really. It is simply another nod to the idea that we’re all evolving beings, regardless of how much our external environments affect our development and direction. So, to be on the “same wave” might actually imply that each individual is always only on their own wave and that sometimes, just sometimes, we find some alignment with others. And just as the surf wave breaks, so too does the synchronicity between people (or things).
I guess what we should really aim for is to be on the same wave with ourselves. For if we’re always chasing someone else’s wave, we’re going to get knocked down, get off course, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get drug out to sea and lose our bearings, left to drift in the watery abyss forever. Finding synchronicity with the self is difficult; finding it with someone else (or something else) is even more so. But I have to imagine it is simply impossible to find that alignment with another if we haven’t got it for ourselves. Just like Johnny Utah was told out there on the pier by the surf rat when he was trying to learn to catch a wave to infiltrate Bodhi’s gang, “Surfing’s the source. It’ll change your life, swear to god.” But the only way it’ll change your life is if you’re in tune; not just with yourself, but with your environment – that’s the only shared path to find. Just hope, that’s all you can do, that someone (or something) will find it too. Surf’s up.