Minding Myself

When I need time and space to myself, I head to the beach. It’s where I traditionally do my best
thinking. I’m calmer there and I seem to be able to put life’s problems and challenges in
some sort of perspective. And I like it best when there are very few people around and it’s
just me and my thoughts and daydreams. It’s my time out of life, my refuge, my safe place.
It’s where I have dealt with grief, with loss of special people in my life, with difficult
situations with family and friends and tricky work issues.
The physical action of walking seems to make my brain work differently. With my eyes I see
the vastness of the sea and I watch the ebb and flow of the tide. Gulls circle overhead
dipping and diving, fighting over a scrap of fish. On my onward journey I look to the Wicklow
hills, on the return on a clear day the distant Mourne mountains beckon. I’m happy when I
see a distant fishing boat lazily puttering along or yacht scudding by heading towards
Lambay, the wind in its brightly coloured spinnaker. I am especially honoured if a seal shows
his head above water and does a swim past.
I hear the crash of the waves, the faraway bark of a dog, the twitter of the oyster catchers at
the water’s edge, the click of a golf ball being struck on the nearby course. I feel the wind on
my face blowing my hair in all directions and the satisfying crunch of seashells beneath my
feet, cowries, razor shells and periwinkles. A dog bounds up to me to say hello and I run my
fingers through his fur and I smile and wave at his owner and call a greeting. The air carries
the scent of salt and seaweed, of freedom.
At weekends I get up early on frosty winter days to watch the sunrise. The sky is black when
I start my walk but after a while ribbons of scarlet, orange, and yellow start to appear. I
drink it in not bothering to try and capture a one dimensional image of it on camera. This is
a totally immersive experience and I am in the moment surrounded by beauty. There is no
room in my head for anything else. And then the sun begins to peep over the horizon, rising
over Ireland’s eye and the dawn light show is over for another day. My brain has been
recalibrated for another week and I know I’m lucky to be alive even in this crazy world. It’s
reminded me yet again there is still beauty and peace to be had and good kind people in my
life.