l find more moments of inspiration and clarity from a regular dose of nature, but something else important happens.
It’s a habit for me to swing toward the pointed edge of the land on which we live, and check the beach like it’s at risk of going somewhere without me. Best be sure.
This turn to nowhere, a comma separating pressing responsibilities. It is only 30 seconds and besides, how neglectful to drive past when it is the ocean that keeps me in this little town.
Usually I allow myself just the pause here, never turning the engine off and not feeling bad about taking the carpark reserved for the disabled (I won’t stay long, I have much too much to do, and besides, I think selfishly, why would they put the disabled car park at the best vantage for surfers?).
Light is silver here at nine in the morning after I drop the kids to school. It softens into a copper gold where the sand takes over. It is a canvas that changes daily but always welcomes me with its familiar beauty.
I’ll scrutinise the form of the waves as if we are on a speed date. They must prove themselves worthy or I’m off, rounding the corners of the carpark and forcing my gaze away so as not to crash into a cheap campervan or the truck of a Council worker on a pie break.
The lines of ocean energy don’t keep that sort of time. I know it, but I do it because there are more pressing commitments in my day, or so the inner dialogue rants at me. I have more productive, less guilty ways to spend the middle of the week. I should work. I should get things done. I should work.
I watch as a black shape paddles a trail through the silver sea. From his position lying on the board and the first smooth duck dive, I know he can adequately test the waves out there for me. My focus zooms and the distraction of work begins to fade.
If I try now, I’ll find piles of washing or dishes beckoning; the long blades of grass in the lawn will glare at me, a disorderly cupboard will demand to be sorted, I will stop to smell the salt on the air and check the tips of trees for wind strength. It is no good. I need to surf.
People often say they need the regularity of an office because they could never be disciplined enough to work from home. This works for them so that’s fine. It doesn’t work for me, but I am guilty of guilt talk too. When checking the surf during office hours, I label it a distraction, which really isn’t fair.
l find more moments of inspiration and clarity from a regular dose of nature, but something else important happens. It is only because of a sense that I have spent valuable time surfing that I maximise the time that remains; I can commit to work afterward, inspired.
Mirror-like with a transparency through which the light moves from morning to midday, the waves are calling now. Already the sea beyond has goose bumps from a slow rising sea breeze. I may have blown it.
Few moments are as urgent as the race home to grab a wetsuit and board when the onshore is rising. Once out, I must make up for lost time. After 10 waves, calmness descends and then clarity. Ideas are formed, small problems fade, solutions crystalize, the light around me has a different effect.
I wonder what revelations Einstein would have had, had he been fortunate enough to be a surfer?
If you're spending a lot of your day in bare feet, then chances are you have found the kind of balance that Hook & Arrow writer Alison Smith has found in life.