Seascapes

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“In my writing and my Reiki work I’ve learned to heed body-wisdom and dreams. Both access different levels of the subconscious, and the subconscious does not lie. It cannot. The conscious mind cannot eliminate preconceptions or fear completely. It is only in the sub-conscious state that we are set free.” Helen Noakes

Waking Point

By Helen Noakes

Claude Monet’s “Stormy Seascape.”

Claude Monet’s “Stormy Seascape.”

“The subconscious is ceaselessly murmuring, and it is by listening to these murmurs that one hears its truth.”—Gaston Bachelard

Helen NoakesSAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—5/27/13—The cold blue air of the Pacific clears my foggy inner vision as I walk along its edge. Each day, my pace is different, reflecting thoughts, emotions, pressures from others, from myself, from that mysterious yet familiar force that is my body’s wisdom.

Some nights, I wake with remnants of dreams stuck in my mind. My dreams, of late, tell me stories only slightly askew, causing me to ponder details in an effort to unravel meaning. Night-thinking accesses the subconscious in peculiar ways. As I interweave dream images with reality, I find the remnants of unnecessary baggage. Strange, the things that remain! Their recurrence in dreams belies my relegating them to a heap of trivialities.

In my writing and my Reiki work I’ve learned to heed body-wisdom and dreams. Both access different levels of the subconscious, and the subconscious does not lie. It cannot. The conscious mind cannot eliminate preconceptions or fear completely. It is only in the sub-conscious state that we are set free. The Ancients knew this, prescribing dream analysis as an integral element in healing. Refer to data unearthed in Epidaurus and on Kos, should you have doubts. Delving deep into the self, without preconceived ideas and without fear, is essential to both emotional and physical balance. And in this period of my life, in this quiet after so much turmoil, balance is what I dearly seek.

The fact that the archetypal imagery for the subconscious is water is not lost on me, as I walk along Ocean Beach. There is a world down there, in the ocean’s depths, that almost mirrors the world on the surface, but not quite. The ever-moving waters give the deep a mysterious aspect. The light below is incandescent, the darkness impenetrable. And, if you are anything like me, the first minute of a dive takes your breath away, causes a momentary panic. It takes focus and courage to allow the body to relax and float for a while before plunging deeper. In that decision, that second when the choice is made to continue, fear is transformed into wonder.

Courage and wonder, I ponder the question of their interrelationship as I climb the hill next to the ruins of The Sutro Baths and walk a wooded trail high atop cliffs that plunge into the foaming waters. The sound of breakers booming against rock, rhythmically, tirelessly, is strangely soothing. I look down from the edge, listening to the hiss of heaving water far below. How strange that all that turmoil can evoke a sense of peace.

There is a message there, I know, a parallel to my current state. I feel the salt spray on my face, but know that cannot be, and look up to see rain clouds gathering overhead. So focused was I on the ocean that I did not notice their gathering mass. The “spray” now registers as a raindrop, soon followed by another. I pull up my jacket’s hood, watch water plummet down to water.

The ocean has turned grey but, far in the distance, where sunlight blazes, the Pacific remains stubbornly blue. Down below my feet, far down, the waves continue booming, transforming into seething surf, despite the downpour, the wind, the scream of sea gulls.

I stand quite still, watching, getting wet, waiting for what comes next.

Note: The image that illustrates this essay is Claude Monet’s “Stormy Seascape.” It may be more clearly viewed at http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/claude-monet/stormy-seascape-1.

About Helen Noakes

Helen Noakes is a playwright, novelist, writer, art historian, linguist, and Traditional Reiki Master, who was brought up in and derives richness from several of the world's great traditions and philosophies. She believes that writing should engage and entertain, but also inform and inspire. She also believes that because the human race expresses itself in words, it is words, in the end, that will show us how very similar we are and how foolish it is to think otherwise.
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4 Responses to Seascapes

  1. Deborah Dashow Ruth says:

    Helen ~
    Amid all your vivid, evocative images of the ocean, I especially loved this sentence: “How strange that all that turmoil can evoke a sense of peace.”
    Somehow I was reminded of two recurrent dreams I’ve had for decades. Both convey frustration. In one, I’m still working at UC Extension (I left in 1985!) but not getting paid because I’m just “tying up loose ends,” which seem never to stay tied up. Nobody knows me, even though I worked my butt off there for 20 years. I keep muttering, “This is my LAST day!” In my other one, my “packing dream,” we’re coming home from a long trip, and I realize that half the stuff I brought along I never used or wore, and I don’t think I can fit it all into my 2 suitcases. I vow to pack lighter next time, but when the dream returns, nothing’s changed. What’s my sub-conscious trying to tell me? And do I really want to know?

    Helen, your essays are always thought-provoking. Brava, and keep writing.

  2. Helen Noakes says:

    Thank you for your commentary, Deborah. And to answer your question: yes you do, you must, and I trust that you’ll find the answers.

  3. Mary Gottschalk says:

    Hi Helen … just came to see your website … a lovely post on the water and it’s role as a metaphor for memory and the subconscious. From the time I was 25 until I came to Des Moines, I always lived within walking distance of the water, which had almost always had a calming effect on me. And one of my most loved moments (of which there were many) was falling asleep with the rocking of the boat and surf on the reef just beyond the anchor.

  4. Helen Noakes says:

    Mary, thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to post a comment. It was a pleasure meeting you at the workshop. I haven’t forgotten my promise to send you some data, but it has been a bit hectic since my return. I do hope that you keep me posted on the progress of your wonderful novel.

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