One of the things I like about living where we live in Boston is that I get to walk over the ocean every day crossing the Summer Street Bridge to Fort Point. No matter how big a hurry I am in I find my eyes wandering to the surface of the water. It is choppy, churning, glassy smooth? Is the tide — without measuring, there must be a ten-foot variation in the Fort Point Channel — going in or out? Can you differentiate the ripples from the tidal flow from the chop the wind is blowing up? What’s under there, can I see the bridge pilings? There’s an endless flow of information — mostly useless, sure — that I can sample, and I find it delightful.
It’s safe to say that I don’t find land nearly as interesting, unless I am viewing it from the water. The interface between land and water is endlessly fascinating (I’m far from unique here I guess judging from all the time we spend at beaches). Even far out at sea, though, water is interesting. It reflects what’s around — the sky, clouds, your boat — while distorting it according to its mood. Occasionally interesting things like turtles pop out of it.
As I think about it, it occurs to me I like the same thing about people. I’d rather have a conversation with someone who is able to absorb, change, color, and reflect the world in interesting ways, than a conversation with someone who is not reflecting, or not changing. Even the music I like — jazz, bluegrass — involves absorbing, coloring, and reflecting back, hopefully in real time. The interplay of light on flow, or chop, or storm surge, is like the reinforcing feedback loop between a great soloist and a great drummer, where the net result is greater than either could achieve alone.
Unfortunately I am afraid reflection is out of fashion these days, at least in the shouting contest of social media and the popular press. I am certain it will come back in one day though, just like the tide.