You know those collections of photos people mail around—The World’s Greatest Buildings, the Most Amazing Landscapes or 13 Things to do with a Watermelon? Well, I recently got this photo in my e-mail.
This is the meeting of the Baltic Sea with the North Sea at Skagen, Denmark. The waters of the Baltic are mostly fresh from a large land catch basin. The North Sea coming from the Danish Straits is more saline. It is this difference in density which creates the above phenomenon: the two bodies of water do not mix. Here it is on a map if you’re geographically-challenged like me.
Pretty cool, huh? There is no visible barrier. The waves can be seen clashing into each other. It’s just as though they were two separate bodies of water. The actual physical barrier lies in a chemical difference in salinity called a halocline. Regional temperature variations sometimes allow some surface mixing but overall the seas are permanently separate. I don’t claim to understand all the chemistry involved as I only barely passed high school chemistry class.
I think what drew me to the photograph was its similarity—its demonstration of the idea that in life, densities don’t mix, either. If we can picture the North Sea as God, good, and the Baltic as my little trickle—we see that they don’t mix until we’re on the same density, wavelength, consciousness—whatever you want to call it. The Skagen halocline does get more permeable, however, when ambient temperatures equalize the salinity to a greater degree.
Imagine this continuum:
Did you ever have one of those days when the dryer breaks, the kid goes ballistic, dinner burns on the stove, the dog eats the homework and…and…. I call this a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (after Judith’s Viorst’s children’s book), but you might just call it a crummy afternoon. If you were to attempt to be happy on such an afternoon, you couldn’t do it—even with all the affirmations and Post-it notes at your disposal. Your mental density is just too much to experience happiness. Here’s what’s going on in your head: “Oh, god, the dryer repair will be expensive and I’ll have to get somebody out here—what a hassle! Stupid dog! I wish Johnny would just shut up about it. Oh man! I just let our food burn—where’s the fire extinguisher!” Not a pretty sight.
But if you can lift thought just a teensy bit by becoming generally negative—as in “It’s been a rough afternoon. I don’t know what I’m going to do for dinner. The stupid dog needs to be fed. I’ll have to help Johnny re-do his homework,” then this lifts your thought from the specific to the more general on the negative side of the continuum. Still not a great afternoon, but a more manageable one then the nightmare above.
Then if you get make the teensy move over to generally positive: “Johnny will chill if he gets some dinner in him. We have to go out anyway to take the clothes somewhere to get dried. I’ll get to pick out something I really want to eat. This fool dog will take a nap anyway.” Now you’ve moved out of the negative into the positive scale.
“I love spending time with Johnny so we’ll go to his favorite place. I can get my favorite salad there and maybe we’ll treat ourselves to sundaes. Johnny’s handwriting wasn’t the best on that paper so he would have had to do it over anyway. On our way I’ll see if I can put the clothes in my friend’s dryer. She’ll give me a hug when I tell her my tale of woe and maybe she knows a dryer repair guy.” Now my consciousness, my awareness in thought has been lifted to experience the good. My “density” and the goodness of God equalize into blessings realized.