I love the ocean more than anywhere else in the world: swimming in it; surfing with it; watching it; paddling in it; discovering the natural world that lives beneath the waves; soaking up the stillness and calm of the flat sea; letting the energy and vitality that comes from wild waves, invigorate and inspire. The ocean brings with it so many metaphors for life. And it also brings one of the most healing landscapes or nuggets of nature you can find. Nature has a place for anyone, and I feel that way about the ocean too – I really believe there is a part of it, or a way of being with it, that can connect with any soul.
I miss the ocean so much it literally hurts. I realise I have stopped myself looking at pictures, thinking about it, or listening to stories of friends surfing or at the beach because I cannot bear the pain it brings that I’m not near or with my favourite thing in the world. But that is something that needs to change because it is the only place I can take my mind to and truly feel safe, alive, inspired, calm, and connected. To stop myself remembering this and feeling like that, isn’t so kind. In meditation or in moments of needing to calm any anxiety spin, I always take my mind to a place in nature. The sea doesn’t tend to be there because it hurts too much that I can’t be there for real. But surely, to be there on imaginary terms is better than not being there at all! I reckon.
This last year I have felt as though I have been chewed up, spat out, chewed up, spat out…and so on. It literally feels that way physically. The chewing is like being taken to hell and back, with solid ground seeming like a permanent thing of the past. But then there is that feeling of relief that spreads over my entire being as I am spat out, taking with me the lessons learnt and an even deeper level of strength gained from whatever turmoil has just been happening. Somehow it just keeps on coming, and somehow I just keep on growing and getting through.
A few months back I had an emergency skype call with my therapist in America (who I’m still talking to weekly, thank God), due to hideous Anti-D’ side effects of suicidal ideation like I have never experienced before, and I hope to NEVER experience again. It was terrifying, and felt so unnatural. It WAS so unnatural, it was the pills. She could see my panic at the effect these chemicals were having (yes, something that is supposed to ease depressive symptoms can make things ten times worse…these side effects stopped as soon as I started coming off them…note to self, Anti-D’s do not agree with me), and asked me:
Have you ever had that experience when you are in a wave, and you’re being sucked in and churned about, not knowing where the top or the bottom is?
Yes, I answer.
Well, what do you do?
Let go, I say.
And then I laugh. Because I realise that’s what I had to do then. That metaphor saved my life that weekend, and it has since brought so much relief and ease since. When everything feels overwhelming, so unknown, so uncertain or scary, I close my eyes and imagine myself in a wave. I let myself Let Go. I let myself roll with the punches, trust that I am going to come up for air, know that this too shall pass, remember that is natural, this is safe and okay, despite how out of control life can feel.
The closest thing I have to the Ocean right now (apart from very scattered trips to the nearby unswimable muddy seaside, half an hour away) is YouTube and its wealth of surf movies. I am proud to say that I have taken to watching the best trashy film of all time – Blue Crush – and doing the washing up at the same time…this is almost like being in the sea. Or I take mega long hourly baths, with my snorkelling gear and pretend I’m in the Carribean.
I believe only those who surf or live for another kind of outdoor pursuit, can truly get that pain that I describe above. The connection, the love, the need is so innately buried within, that it is not a matter of ‘snap out of it…do something else…can’t you just go swimming in the local pool?’ NO. No I can’t. I need water, I need waves, I need the sea, NOW. It is a need that feels just the same as the need to eat. Except this ocean need brings you salty healthy tanned skin, and a smile that spreads over your whole body. Food does that too (the smile bit), but too much of it also tends to bring an extra inch on the waist.
One day I know I’ll find myself living by the ocean again. For now I need to be in these city walls, for all the resources that are here. But I am determined to make friends with as many surfers and outdoor enthusiasts (who own cars) as this summer comes, so I can maximise my GETTING OUT OF THE CITY potential. I’m talking daily, if possible. Until this day comes that I am living next door to my best friend again, these photos and my fond memories of all my many days spent in the water since I was a wee grom, are what keeps me going.