My husband and I moved to Santa Cruz from San Francisco in 2004. We moved to a beautiful neighborhood that borders the edge of town. Our street dead-ends into a creek and the neighbor who lives behind us has an organic farm. One night in mid-February during our first winter in Santa Cruz I was woken up by a disturbing noise. It sounded like a machine that kept going and going. I finally got myself back to sleep and forgot all about it the next day. When I heard it again the next night, I was mad. It took me a lot longer to get back to sleep as I wondered what it might be. I thought maybe since it was cold out that our back yard neighbor had a heat blower that was keeping his crops warm at night. I mentioned it to my husband the next day and he was also angry. He said he had been woken up two nights in a row and that last night he figured that it must be our back neighbor’s kiln that they were firing in the middle of the night. When we heard it on the third night, we were both up and out of bed. We opened our back door and we couldn’t believe how loud that sound was. My husband was about to start driving around looking for the source of the sound. I barely convinced him to wait another night before complaining. The next early evening my husband went out to visit a friend and when he got out of his car he said he was standing in the middle of that awful sound. He turned around and looked right and left and back and forth and then it hit him. It was the ocean. His friend lived only a block from the ocean and when he was that close he could hear the giant waves, it didn’t sound quite as continuous as it did further up the hill at our house. He cracked up.
When he came home that night he told me he had figured out what the sound was. He said it in a way that sounded confrontational and I could only imagine that he had just been over confronting the neighbor with our complaints. When he said, “The ocean!” it took me a minute to figure out what he was even saying. The battle and fight that I was having with an imaginary “other” turned into a miscommunication with Mother Nature herself. I laughed out loud. We went and stood on our back step and listened to the ocean. What we were hearing was particularly big surf that was hitting the coastline all week, sounding like a continuous roar because of the way sound carries at night. Now that I knew what I was hearing it sounded so wonderful! We felt our hearts soar and our joy return. We’re so lucky to live so close to the ocean that we can hear it! What a profound shift to experience – going from anger to joy in a moment when nothing on the outside had changed but everything on the inside had changed.
I frequently work with people in therapy who are stuck looking at an issue in a way that doesn’t serve them. Often it’s helpful to get help from someone who is removed from the situation in order to see it more clearly.
Are you or a loved one muddling through difficult issues in your life? If so, please call or send me an email to discuss how working together might help.