Breakfast at the beach
Bucks Fizz and four bean salad
Watching the waves of the retreating tide
Sun glinting on sea-washed stones
Solitude settles with a secret smile
When did you last press pause? When did you haul yourself out onto the beach, or tie up to the banks? When did you last absolutely, totally, completely, just…stop?
If you take your religion literally then you'll know that even the creator of everything needed a day off. If you don't, well, it's still a thought to conjure with… everyone needs some down-time.
We've lost the habit though. We've forgotten how to do nothing. We fill our work-days until they over-reach their hours, we overschedule our careers so that they creep into our evenings and our weekends, and even if you pretend those times are sacrosanct, are family time, are you time…what's the betting they're still scheduled to the hilt…places to be, people to see, culture to catch-up, dance class, exercise, swim, run, shop cook and clean, gardens to manage, allotments to tend, cakes to be baked, laundered ironing to do, make do and mend…
…and on and on…
All of it good, much of it necessary, but all of it all of the time is, frankly, too much.
Stop. Decide to take some time for yourself and promise yourself you are going to do as little with it as you can possibly manage. Pack a picnic. Go to the beach – or the river – or the park. Go no further than is necessary to find some space. This is not a day for climbing hills, clocking up the miles, or foraging in city nooks and crannies. No galleries. No films or theatre. No friends, even, no family.
This is not a day with a need to DO. It is a day to just Be. You are not developing yourself. You are indulging yourself, restoring Your Self. For that you need quite. You need what might be called an extended meditation, if that didn't feel too much like exactly the kind of work we're shirking today.
You need to be outside, where you can hear and smell and feel the planet breathing around you.
Then you need to simply sit down. And listen. Scent the air. Hear the rhythms, feel the air or the sun on your skin (or the rain – if that's what comes).
If you've taken a book with you you'll find yourself reading, which wasn't the plan. If the phone has connection, you'll find yourself checking, which wasn't the plan. If the only book you have is your journal, and the cliffs are blocking all signal, you might just find yourself losing track of time… all of those thoughts that whirr and worry slowly drift away ~ for a while. Let them go.
I went to the beach today. I often do. Normally I go to walk, to play with the camera, to write – but mostly to walk. Today I went and simply sat. Listening to the waves tumbling the pebbles, waiting for the tide to retreat down to the sand so that I could paddle. I claim not to do beach holidays or sitting-by-the-pool holidays "because I'd get bored"… so I was more than a little surprised to discover that having found my quiet spot away from the crowds, I had simply sat, listening to the waves, watching the birds – and the lone white butterfly that seemed intent on a watery grave as it fluttered directly out to sea – I had sat still and quiet for over three hours.
Thoughts came and went. Reminiscences. Ideas. None of them captured. The sound of the sea, the taste of salt in the air, wandering slowly back towards civilisation through the shallows, cool water and wet sand, playing now with creativity, but it hadn't been a day for creation – but a day for restoration. A day with no agenda, not intent, a day to just allow everything to slow down to a stop.
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