I sat crosslegged on the sand in front of the lagoon, watching seagulls craw at each other madly, black swans glide with grace and reserve, and a large black bighting fly buzz round me mercilessly. I had set my timer for five minutes and I was trying to meditate. For me five minutes was a step up from nothing but it was proving difficult.
What was it today that irked me? I posed the question and almost as quickly the response came back. I was bored. Boredom is one of the worst emotions humans can experience. Over the other side of the lagoon was a two-kilometre beach. I couldn’t hear the waves and that was a good sign. Perhaps this morning it would be calm. I could go skinny-dipping.
The idea thrilled me. For just a minute. Then I watched as the protestations marched in: Never swim alone! The warning resounded in my mind. I knew that it could be dangerous and yet it was this element that excited me. Other protests nagged me too: It was immodest. No-one knew where I was. It was a childish thing to do. Despite the warnings, or because of them, I picked up my bag and trudged along the dusty path to the beach.
My mind, I could see, could just as easily keep me in a state of boredom when all around me - and particularly today as I was camping in a national park - there were things to keep my mind sparked. Nature was God’s playground, I thought. It was as if God was saying to me, “Look, I went crazy with all my creative energy. I’ve got so much creativity I can’t contain it. Here’s a hundred different birds each with different colours and beaks and wing types, here are kangaroos and snakes that can harm you. I can’t stop now, I've got so many ideas.”
At the end of the woods filled with short brittle trees I climbed the rickety wooden stairs to the top of the sand dune. There in front of me, majestic and sweeping, was the vast sea. The wind had not yet woken, neither had the other campers. I had this calm vastness all to myself. I took off my clothes hesitantly and walked to the water’s edge. The water was warmer than I had expected and against my skin, it was delicious. I walked further in, crouched down and grinned.
This was too good to do only once. The next early morning, I brought another mum and we relished the sea on our bodies again. With someone else I felt more confident, swum further out, and jumped the waves, breasts bouncing freely and gleefully. I laughed out loud. It was wonderful to feel so alive. What could I give to others, to my children, when I felt refuelled? And I had to admit, the element of danger, of breaking unwritten rules gave me a thrill, something like a beetroot, carrot and spirulina boost for the spirit.
It was the first week of the New Year and it seemed to me no better way to usher it in.