It has been a long hot summer in Sydney and we have barely hit the halfway mark. As much as I love sunshine, fresh air and the great outdoors, I also despise heat. For anyone sitting in colder climes reading this, you are probably ready to throw darts at me or, worse still, just stop reading. Moving on.
I am lucky enough to live within a short drive of a beautiful beach in Sydney and as the heatwave continued to drive us out of our minds, I decide to head to the beach. Normally, my beach bag consists of sunscreen, beach towel, hat, and whatever book I am reading. As I was only planning on spending a couple of hours there, mainly to take my first dip into the ocean to kick off 2017, I decide to leave my book (currently catching up on Winston Graham’s Poldark series) at home.
With many locals still on their summer break, the beach was busier than usual for a weekday. After dumping my beach gear on my small patch of paradise, I jumped straight into the ocean. The water temperature was perfect. I look up into the clear blue sky with barely a whisp of a cloud that resembles a very long, fluffy piece of fairy floss. I look out to the ocean to find a few small sailboats taking advantage of the wind conditions.
All around me are people of all ages – swimming, sunbathing (me being concerned they may not have enough sunscreen on their backs!), sleeping, chatting, playing. I am not a particularly good swimmer – I just enjoy being in the water – so when the waves start to become a little big for me to manage, I decide to swim back to shore.Regretting my decision to leave my book behind and not wanting to spend my time staring at the phone checking social media, I decide to just lie down, close my eyes and empty my mind – things that you are supposed to do when you find yourself in paradise. I put my hat over my face and begin to meditate. Or at least, I begin to attempt to meditate.
Thinking about nothing is so much harder than you would imagine. Inevitably, thoughts would come to me like “why is it so hard to think about nothing?” and “what does ‘nothing’ look like?”. When Jerry Seinfeld’s self-titled sit-com took off in the ’90s, critics and marketing experts called it “a show about nothing”. But clearly, it is not a show about nothing. It is a show about Seinfeld’s observations about life around him.
My meditation guide always used to start our sessions with: “think of the place you love the most, the place you feel is your paradise”. Well, what happens when you are already in that place? Having failed the first test to empty my mind, the opposite occurs. My mind starts to wander. I start to wonder why it is so hard for people to truly take a break, remove themselves from the stresses of daily life, and just enjoy being in the “here and now”. Take a deep breath and reflect.
2016 was a restful-yet-challenging year for me personally. Two weeks into 2017 and I am still slowly working out how to achieve my goals and beginning to have self-doubt. As British adventurer, Al Humphreys says, we are all capable of having an adventure (or whatever it is that you want to achieve). Start by getting rid of the excuses that I – and most of us – make that stop me from doing something. Then taking small, actionable and achievable steps.
I generally never make any resolutions in the new year because I feel like they are usually fairly meaningless. However, I am making an exception now to make some lifetime resolutions that are obvious, simple, achievable, yet always neglected year after year. I hereby resolve to:
- Worry less, especially over things I have no control over
- Write more, starting with #PostAWeek2017 (just as I did back in 2011 *gasp*)
- Explore a place or experience something I have not done before at least once a month
Now that I have announced my resolutions to the world wide web, I have to make it happen. Stay tuned for future updates and wish me luck!