How do we exist?

It had been another long day, and as the clock ticked towards midnight, the body yearned for sleep, but the mind looked longingly at the tsundoku pile, and craved for some quiet moments of solitude. I peeked out of the window, and the moon sailing high through the skies tugged at my heart. There is something so intensely beautiful about catching sight of our  lovely cosmic neighbor sending its mellow moonbeams through the leaves at night.

I looked for a word that captures the phenomenon, but there isn’t one.

There are two words in Japanese that come close (the Japanese language has such amazing words for admiring wondrous nature around us.)

Kawaakari ( 川明かり – a word depicting the evening reflection of light on water, or in some cases can refer to the reflection of the moonlight off flowing water.


Komorebi (木漏れ日): Sunshine filtering through the trees.


I had just started reading The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson. In the first chapter, Rachel Carson takes us with her steady voice into a time on Earth before the seas were created. When the planet was still heaving and churning its metallic ores, hot searing waves of liquid settling into a semi-liquid state in its outer cores. She wonders then about the question, how were the oceans formed?
“So if I tell here the story of how the young planet Earth acquired an ocean, it must be a story pieced together from many sources and containing whole chapters the details of which we can only imagine.
For although no man was there to witness this cosmic birth, the stars and moon and the rocks were there, and indeed, had much to do with the fact that there is an ocean.”

Then, she leads us from this fiery place in the cosmos with the sun heaving its solar flares, the earth itself arranging itself into concentric spheres with hot, molten iron at its core, and an intermediate sphere of semiplastic basalt , the outer layers of granite and basalt. And then gently she lures us into the possibility of the moon and the ocean being related to each other.

The next time you stand on a beach at night, watching the moon’s bright path across the water, and conscious of the moon drawn tides, remember that the moon itself may have been born of a great tidal wave of earthly substance, torn off into space.

How can one not be mesmerized by the creation of the moon? Was it truly hewn from the surface of the earth (The moon’s density does match the density of the outer crust). The hypothesis that the moon was hewn away after massive solar tides exerting a pull on semi-molten Earth is based on the theory that the large portion thus hewn away left such a large scar on the surface of the Earth. A scar that would continue to shape Earth and its lifeforms for millions of years afterward: The Pacific Ocean.

Later, as the Earth cooled and clouds formed from the steam rising, the rains started. Pouring onto the hot earth for years – initially almost immediately evaporating into steam, but eventually collecting as water – forming the first oceans.

It is, of course, fascinating that we still do not know for sure how the moon was created. There are several theories – theories of violent impacts, random objects being attracted by gravity, and young earth managing to keep one satellite, while heftier ones like Jupiter acquiring 67 etc. This is a topic still under discussion.

Nevertheless, the very first chapter had me wowed. I would never be able to look at our closest cosmic neighbor with the same eyes ever again. How often I have stood marveling at the moon? Out on walks, my heart always skips a beat when I catch sight of the beautiful, faithful satellite accompanying Earth as she tears through space. To think that there is a possibility that the very creation of our cosmic neighbor was crucial to our oceans is awe inspiring. I live on the Pacific Coast, and never can I see the bays, the ocean or the moon without reminding me of this book.

The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson


The skies hold the answers to our most philosophical stirrings. Why do we exist?

The seas, it seems, holds the answers to our most existential stirrings. How do we exist?

The Edge of the Sea

The Edge of the Sea beckoned with increasing urgency. 

We can technically reach the sea shores within a couple of hours drive, but the routines of life mean that we rarely do so. I looked at the pleading look in the daughter’s eyes as she pumped for a day at the beach, and consented. And so, it was with considerable energy that the children and I packed our picnics for the day. The entertainment bag with books, snacks and sandwiches were ready, soul filled up to the brim with good hearted spirits, and we set off to the cold shores of the Pacific Ocean on the Californian coastline. 

I must admit it is a beautiful thing to do. It is especially sweet when one has taken the day off. One can imagine the rest of the world working in drab offices, spouting theories, pouting about the myriad tasks that occupy one’s day, while we gaze contentedly at the ocean, listening to the sound of the waves lapping the shore. Wildflowers bloomed creating a kaleidoscope of color a short distance away. Birds and butterflies flitted around them gaily.



Out on the beach, there were a couple of families who were also enjoying a small Spring break, and there was harmony between land and ocean dwellers alike.

Kites were being flown by some, and the little dragon and butterfly shaped kites took off with an ease that is hard to get in landlocked parks. The sea gulls were making pests of themselves over an upturned packet of someone’s carefully packed picnic. Every time someone came to shoo them, off, they lifted themselves with a grace that the man-made kites could never quite get.


A little farther away from us were a couple of small birds, who I have since learned are called sandpipers. And what a fitting, poetic name for the little marvels?! They darted in and out with the waves looking for whatever it is they eat from the foam that washes up. They inspired us to play the same game of keeping as close to the lapping waves as possible but not getting wet. We did, but we were nowhere as elegant and nimble as those little busy sandpipers.

Days later as I bustled about the day, a quick darting image of these little birds would flash before my mind’s eye, and I would indulge in a small smile. A smile that reminded me of the bigger gift of life that surrounds us, a life and planet so marvelous that our daily tensions can in an instant be gone just by stopping to think of them.

The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place – Rachel Carson

Regular readers know that the teenaged daughter should have been born a mermaid. Since she is a human being, she makes up for the shortcoming by thriving on all things ocean related. Her reading is generously sprinkled with mermaids; her drawings of coral reefs, fish and dolphins reached a point where her teacher said she had to choose a land based theme to draw so she learns the techniques for drawing different scapes; her favorite myths involved the Greek God of the Oceans, Poseidon. And it all started early. She watched Finding Nemo & The Little Mermaid 666 times.


Every time, I crave for the forest, she craves for the beach. “A quiet day at the beach is a wonderful thing. Most importantly, you don’t have to do anything. No hikes, no walks, no did-you-see lists Amma!” she said, and as I watched her loll on the beach with a book in her hands, I must admit that the appeal is infectious.

The edge of the sea is fascinating. Watching the shoreline move in accordance with the tides and waves is engaging. The sandpipers and seagulls can entertain you all day. Who needs phones by the beach? (Coming up next)


Books: The Edge of the Sea – By Rachel Carson

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