People Are Waves
The people you meet are not really human.
They are not even material bodies located in space and time.
People are waves.
A human being seems to be, most prominently, a physical object, a body with arms and legs, a beating heart and breathing lungs. Yet once you interact with or form a relationship with this body, it suddenly obtains a different hue, different qualities. It is not the original body with which you came in contact. For the relationship remains after the person departs: The image of him, the ideas of him, the sound of his voice, even his smell, have not disappeared from your consciousness. His presence extends beyond his body and mind, which are now invisible. The person continues to “touch” your being in some mysterious way. Since this connection is ever-present and operates at a spatial and temporal distance, it partakes of the nature of a wave. But if the connection, the relationship, is a wave, then both of you must be waves too: for what behaves and interacts as a wave (and resides in a dimension other than that of physical objects) is a wave. Even if we assume that a human being is both a physical object as well as a wave, then the wave aspect of his nature ends up being more important with respect to the totality of his life. This is so, because our physical encounters in space and time are but a small subset of the much larger world in which our overall interactions as waves occur. You may have thirty friends of whom none are with you at this moment. Yet you are connected with them by invisible wave-ripples that are constantly alive: In your mind, heart, and imagination, i.e. in this larger world that transcends the physical, your friends are always present and affecting you – consciously or unconsciously.
And of course, you are a wave.
Being a wave, you crisscross thousands of other human waves throughout your life. And every wave has a big or small effect on your movement, on your life, on who you are becoming. All human waves are in constant motion: some come for a while and go, others stay for years and then leave only to return again, some others cross your path briefly and then vanish forever. You are immersed in a sea of human waves. But unlike material objects, whose movements can be predicted with relative certainty – throw a stone and you can calculate its trajectory as it is pulled down by the earth’s gravity – these human waves act and behave in mysterious ways. You never know what a person will do: his decisions are uncertain; his actions unpredictable; his moods volatile; his mental health precarious; his physical presence in your life contingent upon a myriad of factors. Your relationship with another person is free-moving, incalculable, ungraspable. Like a wave, a person’s frequency, amplitude, or speed may change at any moment: the indifferent neighbor may become a new friend; a loving bond may turn sour; the energetic and passionate may become enervated and slothful; the dull and boring may suddenly become creative; the ignorant, wise; the coward, brave. This fickleness, fluidity, or rather the constantly shifting frequency of human behavior, is similar to the uncertain states in which elementary particles exist in quantum mechanics in physics. Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” most certainly applies to the actions of people as it does to the wave-like behavior of subatomic particles!
But people are not waves just because human relationships transcend matter, space, and time. Nor just because the overall unpredictable behavior of human beings pertains more to that of waves than to that of matter. They are waves because of another important reason: Human waves extend along a continuum and therefore have neither a beginning nor an end. You may think that your first encounter with a human wave who has just crossed your path is the beginning of the “relationship.” But it is not so. The wave was already moving before it interacted with you. Your having met at a specific juncture in time was not the beginning of anything, but the crossing of two waves in constant motion. The specific circumstances that lead to the first encounter were prefigured. The human wave was already moving towards your direction before it crossed your path. This motion towards you was actually an indication of the covert connection you have already had with the other wave before the first encounter. It is because we are waves that we are connected even before we meet!
We may actually think of every interaction of human waves as akin to “a momentary materialization” of two waves, similar to the collapse of subatomic waves into matter (the moment we observe them) in quantum mechanics. When they interact, when they cross one another, human waves seem to become material, gross, involved in human bodies at a specific place. But just as in physics, this is not a permanent state, this bodily encounter in the gross physical universe will not last for long. The people will part one way or another, sooner or later. Then they will go on behaving as waves. Their memory, feelings, and imagination will be henceforth interacting with one another, even if only occasionally. Therefore, the connection formed will remain influential in their lives, because its effects can never be annulled. In this sense, their connection will continue forever.
Furthermore, it is because we are waves that every interaction we have with every human being is also monumental! When we examine even the so-called insignificant or passing encounters in our life, they often, upon further scrutiny, prove to have also been monumental: You may have missed the train because of a quarrel you had with a train official. In the next train that you board, you meet the love of your life, your future soul mate. Then you may forget all about the earlier brief quarrel for years to come. Yet you owe the most important encounter of your life to that now forgotten annoying official who delayed your departure. You do not remember his face, nor what the quarrel was about, but this apparently imperceptible human wave was actually a tsunami that greatly changed your life.
Lastly, because we are waves, everything we do – our works of art, our human constructions, our acts of courage and love, our ideas and poems and songs – are wave-ripples that remain even after we pass away. The bodies and minds of Shakespeare and Beethoven have vanished, but the ripples of the waves they both were are still with us, influencing our lives today. Our Wave-Being extends in the past way beyond our birth, and will extend forever in the future after our bodily death. In this sense, we may also claim to be, as much as all waves are, immortal!
All of us are waves of energy and movement and feelings and thoughts, incessantly pulsating, interacting, crossing one another, coming and going, seemingly appearing and disappearing, but never truly ceasing to exist.
This is my wave theory of Man.
PS I: A note for the skeptic: Just as theories in physics or economics or psychology never explain all observable phenomena, the model presented here need not shed light on all aspects of human interactions and relationships. It would suffice if it is seen as a creation of the active imagination, and if it is used to interpret and understand some of the myriad aspects of human nature.
PS II: A couple of days after I had finished writing the present essay, my calendar notified me that the Rick Steves radio interview was to air throughout the US, something I had forgotten since the interview itself had been recorded several months ago. As I listened to the interview, the image of waves returned to mind: My ideas first became the sound waves of my voice and subsequently the radio waves that hovered over the US. And then suddenly, waves of people I have never met before began connecting with me at a distance. Thousands of tangled human waves crisscrossing and interacting with my life’s own wave. Outer and inner worlds seemed to mysteriously converge and harmonize through the symbol of the wave I had just written about. What an amazing synchronicity!