In Praise Of... The Ocean

Whenever I plunge into the ocean, laughter bursts from me. The waves are so wild and fresh and wonderful that my heart sings with joy and sends the happy notes out between my lips.

It’s lovely, but also a little strange, because I didn’t even like the water until two years ago.

My antipathy was the stuff of legend. As a twentysomething, a boyfriend sent me a bouquet with a note attached saying: “For a Piscean who hates water … some flowers to put in it …”

As a fortysomething, “no” had become my standard response to just about everything. I’d taken a set against potential fun, preferring to stand on the sidelines of life. I refused to participate in anything that would take me out of my comfort zone.

I can see now that I was struggling to hold my head above water. Living a controlled life was my coping mechanism.

When my marriage fell apart three years ago, I realised it was time to sink or swim. I chose to swim, both literally and figuratively.

And, six months later, I fell in love – both with a man and the sea.

There’s something about my new relationship that makes me want to say “yes”. I feel released from those old ways that constricted my willingness to try new things.

My late-in-life openness – coupled with my partner’s seaside abode – has led to an addiction to the ocean.

The sight of the water soothes me. Its cool beauty washes away the stresses of my days. I love the feeling of its dried salt on my skin and in the curls of my hair.

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It’s so unexpected that a pale, freckled redhead should yearn to leap and float in the surf, but I miss the ocean every day I’m not there.

I’ll never be the type to sunbake on the sand. My favourite times for a dip are the early morning and late afternoon, when the heat of the sun and the crowds have gone.

My partner and I often meet at our favourite beach for an after-work surf fix. Last week, he arrived with a bottle of prosecco, popped the cork and poured two glasses. We clinked, took a few sips, then ran into the waves as a sun shower started sprinkling down.

It was gorgeous and refreshing and a tiny bit magical … and familiar laughter soon burst from me again.

While it once took a heatwave to entice me into the waves, I now swim in the ocean year round.

Last winter, I posted a kayaking shot on Instagram, prompting a former colleague to comment that it must have been freezing.

I noted: “No wind, so not too bad, but I went for a swim in the surf at Palm Beach afterwards … THAT was pretty chilly … Who AM I?”

She replied: “I have to agree Alana – who the hell are you???”

I’m a woman who, late in life, has realised she loves the ocean.

Not all bodies of water float my boat, it must be the sea.

I get bored in swimming pools or lakes or harbour inlets. It’s the waves I crave. I love being buffeted about in them. I’m reminded how brilliant it is to be alive as I leap and dive in their tumult.

I dream of retiring to the seaside one day, so I can get a daily fix. But for now it’s a blissful escape from the work-sleep-eat Groundhog Day cycle.

Do you love the sea? Where’s your favourite beach?

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