Anatomy of a Wave


Not waving but drowning.

Words by & photos by Nádia Correia

It starts with a wave. Or maybe it ends… That’s the beauty of it. A fluidity, some kind of mysterious nature that leaves the door open for hope of a following embrace or the crushing pain of no such contact.

Anatomy of a Wave 1

In its bittersweet disposition, a wave becomes the epitome of the human condition. In ways that words might shy away from, this gentle motion or vigorous movement reveals without any edits or control of the mind, what each of us really is, wants or feels.  

In its primitive, non-verbal origin, it is that tiny bit of cultural heritage that was passed down for generations as a much cared-for token. It is that organic movement that once served as a way to communicate, to call for attention without any need, although sometimes paired with vocal sounds. A way to tell others we are here. We can see you. Can you see me?


Anatomy of a wave 2

Of course, as most things do, it morphed, grew, and took on other forms. Developed a more formal cousin – the handshake; it took on styles like the finger wave or the princess wave. But it never forgot who it was. And it is, pardon the pun, unwavering as to where it stands in our humanoid cultural DNA.


I was going to mention how in an era of digital connection, of an always on electronic presence, the wave could change once again. How it might even disappear, maybe become more of a see you later kinda guy. But then, as I stood at the airport, once again saying goodbye to my parents as they boarded their plane home, as they turned around amid the crowds at the security check and waved back at me, I once again felt that hope I mentioned earlier. That warm reassurance of a future embrace that I could only get from seeing my mother’s manicured hands waving in the air, paired with my fathers caring, although rather nostalgic, smile.

Anatomy of a Wave 3

Waving is ultimately our anchor. A way to hold on tight to who we are and what we love. Whether it be welcoming or bidding farewell, it is a way to get the most far-reaching tips of our body closer to that which we are longing for, even if just to make a departure feel those tiny centimetres shorter. And if it’s aimed at someone who’s just arriving, just make sure you reach shore quickly.

Eduardo Feteira is a freelance writer and illustrator. He likes small pot plants, large dogs and exploring the lesser-known libraries of East London. He bites, occasionally.