Growing up I only ever saw the sea once a year during our annual fortnight holiday, usually to Dorset. Days spent playing in the shallow waters of the English channel. Playing with new found friends on the beach or happily playing alone with the sea.
By the time I came to select which University to go to – it was a no brainer. I picked the University in the town I spent so many holidays in. Unlike my classmates – I spent a lot of time on the beach. Walking alone. Although I was never really alone. I always had the sea for company.
Fast forward quite a few years and, with a couple of blips, I’ve found myself living in various places along the south coast of England. For the past nearly five years, I’ve been here in Littlehampton. Shortly after moving here I made a point of going for a walk every day (where possible) and those walks have invariably included walking by the sea.
In May 2016 my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Living alone I sought comfort and company in the days following his passing – and it was the sea who was there for me. I spent hours sat watching the waves crash along the shoreline as I poured my heart out. The sea listened with such compassion and grace.
Now when I need an ear, someone who will listen non-judgmentally and unconditionally – I turn to the sea. I’ve told the story many times before of walking along Playa Uvita in Costa Rica where I felt the encouragement to quit my job and change my life. I felt the reassurance that it was the right thing for me to do.
During Lockdown I have often sought the company of the sea. I’ve gone down to the beach every day to film the sea for my Mum. Whilst there I always take the time to chat to the sea. To share my heart with her and to listen to her wise words of advice in return. There have been many times over the past year that I’ve struggled. Living alone and feeling the isolation. Whilst I’m lucky to have the most amazing best friend who I speak to near enough every day (even though he’s over 5,000 miles away from me, in another time zone and with dodgy wifi connection) there have been times that I have felt so alone. In those moments I’ve put my shoes on, a coat on and taken myself off down to the beach to sit with the sea. To ask her advice. To share my woes. To scream and shout at the absurdity that life so often seems these days. Her constant flow, the regularity of the tides offer me reassurance – a constant that I can hold on to in a world that has been shaken upside down.
When I listen to her – there are two words that keep being repeated. Trust and patience. Without any frustration or exasperation – she repeats those two words to me. Two words that I am learning to embrace.
Even on rough days I find comfort from the sea. I appreciate her power. How she can so easily take life as well as give it. Daily I walk past the local RNLI station with the message “respect the sea” on it – and I do. I have so much respect and gratitude for her.
Invitation: I invite you to sit with the sea and talk with her. I wonder what she has to say to you?
If you feel moved to take this invitation, I invite you to share what you are noticing below.