Respect and bodyfulness


Under normal circumstances the prospect of spending a few months in Brunswick Heads would be super good. I've written before about how much I love this village. In reality, this time it is full of weirdness knowing what is happening in Melbourne and Geelong. But curiously, there is one thing about this place that is less than ideal ...

Being in the ocean is one of the centring joys of my life. Notwithstanding the prevalence of rips on ocean beaches, many of the beaches that I have access to can be enjoyed safely with common sense and reasonable water skills. There are exceptions. The wild beaches on the west coast of Tassie are mostly best enjoyed from the coast line. And this little piece of paradise the top end of the big sweep of beach adjacent to Cape Byron is similarly deserving of much respect.

Unlike many east coast beaches, there are troughs and trenches all along the beach that mean the ocean swells break a long way out and is almost always really heavy. I still jump in the ocean every morning, but only ever venturing out to waist / chest deep as the surf crashes down. It feels treacherous even on a calm sunny day. 

I have wondered why this doesn't frustrate me more than it does, the ocean so tantalisingly present and yet so inaccessible without a board or other floatation aid. I think it's because it is a constant reminder of the power of nature ... the shouting reality that the sea shows no compassion and welcomes us on its terms.

One of the decisions I made earlier this year was to try to live in my body, rather than in my head: to feel the world around me in my skin and bones, to try to understand the world via senses additional to the normal five that I/we have been trained to develop. Some people call this mindfulness, but let me make up a new word (or at least one I've never heard) - bodyfulness.

One of the changes I made was the way I enter the ocean. Daily sunrise bodysurfing / iceberger-ing became an everyday thing during the pandemic (rather than a few times a week). I decided I would walk to the waters edge more slowly, that I would be more conscious of what my body was sensing; that I would enter the ocean with an acknowledgment of its power; that I would enjoy the water on my skin not just physically but spiritually, if that makes sense.

So these days, as I get back to the northern end of the beach after my morning walk with Maria, the easiest option would be to head back to the warmth of a shower straight away. But I choose to put my body into the ocean and feel its strength around me as an act of discipline, a ritual that reminds me of my place in nature, a practice that enlivens not only my body, but my soul. The turbulent waters of Bruns are the perfect place for such a habit.

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