What has a beach walk along English Bay in Vancouver got to do with communication?
It’s a reminder of the power of messages to engage all the senses. Since only 7% of our communication is about the words, it made sense on this drizzly day, even on June 13, 2010 to receive messages cast across the Pacific, through channels of land, whoosh of wind and surf and wet to my walking path at water’s edge on the Sea Wall.
Dog walkers, joggers and couples strolling casually heard the whoosh of waves. You could see the foam fanning out and actually hear its movement and then its brushing billions of grains of sand.
Different temperature could even be felt mixed in with the distinct aromas of different experiences of wet. There was the distant ocean approaching and light rain dropping onto already dew quenched grass.
Sea gulls foraged in temporary colonies at water’s edge. A man being escorted by pigeons on land and air crossed the road back to coffee shops and cars. Some walked, some flew and flapped onto his head and shoulders. Clearly a volunteer, not a victim, his fingers deftly sprinkled food bits onto his hat and his shoulders.
I shuddered. Conversations with nature come in different forms, doesn’t it?
The rain had started suddenly as I picked a meter to park at free before 9:00 a.m. The bay was at the bottom of a hill for me. An umbrella with one broken spoke was in the trunk. It would do.
Droplets touched me. They touched the black velveteen jacket. Rarely did I pull out an umbrella, even here on the ‘wet coast’ of Canada. I grabbed it, tasting more drops on my tongue now and not wanting to shorten my walk in case of heavier rains.
Eye contact is an elusive act in Vancouver. Perhaps it is so all over, in larger centres. Having come from a province whose license plates advertise “Friendly Manitoba”, it was an adjustment.
Here however, in the wordless conversation of the Sea Wall’s open and flat, prairie like parts, greeting nods, smiles and mumbles from strangers engaged in enjoying the environment, rain or shine were at least 50% more likely.
A wordless Sunday walk in the rain yet assailed by messages I could hear, feel, see, taste and smell. A story full of details.
I looked over my shoulder, preparing to make room for the lumbering jogger coming up behind me. No one there. It was simply the sound of my own shoe soles. Each step released them from the grab of the damp and tacky pavement. The noise lifted and wafted out wide into the wordless atmosphere, so full of impressions and story.
And dear reader, of most importance is, “How do you feel now?”