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My Life with the Wave by Octavio Paz

“My Life with the Wave” by Octavio Paz is one of my favorite short stories. It was written by Mexico’s modern intellectuals in 1949 and is a very whimsical story that focuses on love and relationships.

It began with the narrator’s fanciful meeting of a feminine wave who aggressively pursued his attention. He admits to some shyness especially in the presence of the other “larger waves.”

He didn’t want to hurt her feelings in front of the others and gently tried to explain the impossibilities of committing to each other. She was a wave after all and needed the closeness of the ocean. He was a man of a cosmopolitan city.

She decided that she would have him at any cost and engaged in the common dramas known to her gender. “She cried, screamed, hugged, and threatened.” He was just a quiet and soulful being who only wanted to live in harmony. He apologized for bringing her rejection and agony.

The next day he boarded a train and a series of events led him to the Magistrate because of her insistence to join him. He faced the Penal Judge and was release because there weren’t any victims, only a multitude of questions.

He returned to his apartment and surprised to find her waiting for him. She apparently traveled by evaporation.

She changed his life by washing away the darkness and replacing it with sunlight. And he plunged into her depths on a regular basis, soaring high on her “caresses.”

In time, he found one persistent complaint. He was unable to fully “reach the center of her being” because she didn’t have one. She was compared to a whirlwind whose emptiness suppressed and suffocated him. Eventually, the wave became sinister and foreboding due to constant solitude.

He tried to alleviate her depression by presenting her with a colony of fish but he found himself jealous of their presence. The other fish became monsters and turned the wave into a monster that the man feared and hated.

The man and the wave parted ways.

I never considered using a wave as a symbol to femininity. Yet, it somehow seemed appropriate, especially to a masculine perspective.

Paz cleverly and with great humor revealed the core of physical attraction and the heartstrings tied with it.

It was a great story to laugh while embracing its truths between men and women.

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