Saturday, 18 April 2015

What the waves at Coogee Beach have to tell me

A dip in the briny is a dip in the briny wherever you are, right?

Not really. I'm no power swimmer, so I don't concentrate on speed or distance, which I suppose might reduce the differences between swimming locations. 

A few strokes, a float, tread water, swim a bit more- so there's time to tune in to the ocean, the sea state, the light, the breeze, the - splash! 

A face full of Indian Ocean, because there is a bit of a swell today, nothing huge or surfer-exciting, just enough to make it particularly enjoyable to float on my back and feel lifted and lowered, with a powerful but irregular rhythm. We saw the oceanic rollers pounding ashore during stormy weather further south, in Eagle Bay. Here there's just a sense of that irresistible power handling me gently. I wouldn't have lasted long in the storm surf, that's for sure. 

The ageing intellect starts up. I"m mostly salt water; life evolved from the sea; the land's edge is the sea"s edge. TS Eliot's "The Dry Salvages" much on my mind recently. There is a strange kind of between-two-worlds belonging that comes from being rocked in the oceanic cradle. 

Always assuming that the classic Australian terror-fish isn't homing in on that tiny cut on my ankle, gaining speed, breaking the surface.....stop it. it's too shallow here, and there's a sort of shark deterrent line of floats I'm swimming inside. You're more likely to be struck by lightning. 

Another splash in the face. I shall give up thinking too much, and just float, rise and fall, dip and sway, give in to the the sensations of the present moment.

..."the unhurried ground swell....the ground swell that is and was from the beginning.."

Or, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, "the force that through the green ocean drives the swell, drives my green age" and very pleasant it is too. For a little while, I belong here, in this moment- rising, falling back, rising...

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