For three years, the waters of Roaring Beach have been my daily companion. For three years, I have immersed myself into her various moods and, only once, when the waters were a maelstrom of madness, was there a symbolic ritualistic swim; where the water was simply scooped up and splashed unto my face as the churning waves sped through my legs on their way up the side of a dune.
For three years, under all conditions I have maintained the discipline to walk the kilometre down to the beach and throw myself into the waves of the day. Waves that were sometimes languid, sometimes breaking out of reach. In this discipline, I have achieved something.
But although words “discipline”, “commitment” and “goal oriented” might float easily to the surface as descriptors of the third year mark, they are only the envelope from which spring the more full flavoured qualities of this time.
Being as it is that my chosen career is that of an artist, discipline comes naturally, yet it only serves “staying in the process”; something I am much more involved with than product or outcome.
Consistently going to the beach daily is how a potter goes to his wheel with a ball of clay and turns, yet again, towards perfection. I am as a weaver at her loom, daily threading gold into another prayer shawl. I am the poet seated patiently at the desk waiting for the words to spill mysteriously onto the page. I am the Sufi dancer spinning, spinning, surfing out of control in the embrace of God.
And what marks my three year dance? For me, I partnered and swung most often between gratitude and pain.
Gratitude for being fortunate enough to toss myself into the shimmering beauty of wave, cloud, sand, salt and wind on a daily basis. Imagine it.
In today’s modern, hectic pace, it all seems so impossible. Did I really manage to be here everyday for three whole years? Did I really manage to organise my life so that schedules and appointments and meetings were so arranged that, for an hour at least within each day, I would be out in the water? Imagine it.
There was no sickness severe enough to keep me in bed (although, during the second winter when I had the flu for three days, I fairly crawled down to the beach). There was nothing that kept me away from Roaring Beach even for a day out of the last 1,096 days. Imagine it.
For this I am grateful. Even in the beginning after just one month of consecutive daily swims, I was grateful. The intensity of gratitude is what has kept growing.
And the pain? No, it is not associated with the numbing cold of the winter months, the dumping off a wave or pulled muscles and cramped legs. It stems from the knowing that my deepening physical and spiritual connection to this earth will have its inevitable separation. It has taken so long to fall in love with this, my existence, and with what surrounds me here on this earth that, although wrapped in gratitude, the pain of losing this gift comes sharp and harsh.
The earth is so much more “home” now. I dwell in it easily, have come to love it deeply and intimately and, especially while in the water, know that I am truly present at the meeting place where spirit and the sensual flesh of the earth reside.
With an embodied understanding I hold up my hand, my beautiful carving hand, and say, “Part of me”.
Likewise, I can now “hold” the wave and call out, “Part of me”.
I am grateful for this awareness and only too aware of its ending.
Then again, as I soar off some future day on the back of heaven’s eagle, just possibly, eternity might be wet.