For me, the start of a new academic year has always been more significant than the start of a new calendar year. It will probably change in the future but having been a schoolkid/student all my life, September brings a much bigger change for me than January does.
As the end of summer approaches, I always begin to look forward to the next big step in my life. Last year, the ‘big step’ was moving away from home. This year, it will be moving away from my home country. I know I won’t be returning for a full year, so lately I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve learned from growing up by the beach.
I mention the beach in a lot of my posts, and I like to use beach pictures for the illustrations because it has played such a massive role in my growing up. Just like any environment would affect anybody’s upbringing, here are some things I’ve learned from spending every spring and summer by the sea.
lessons from the sea
1. Perspective changes. When I first moved here, I was just a kid. The beach was so magical back then, all I wanted to do was make sandcastles and splash about in the water. As I grew into a teen, it became ‘uncool’ to do such things, instead, it was more acceptable to sunbathe because our looks were all we cared about during those years. It was in those times when I felt most self-conscious wearing a bikini, and even though I was not totally comfortable, it was worse not to wear one when everyone else was. Eventually, we grew up, built some self confidence and sunbathing/bikini days became barbecues, bonfires and drinks on the beach with friends.
I’ve learned that as we grow up, our outlook on even the same things change over time. Everything is in constant flux, nothing stays the same forever, especially ourselves.
2. Nature is beauty. From the first time I saw it until now, and every time in between, I’ve never grown tired of looking at the great blue sea melt into the horizon in the distance. I’ve never grown tired of watching the sunset or sunrise change the colour of the sky, painting it all shades of pinks, purples and oranges. I’ve never not felt soothed by the feeling of sand between my toes or the sound of the waves washing into the shore. Part of the reason why I love mediationso much is because I have such a great place to do it.
I’ve learned that Mother Nature is so, so beautiful.
3. Pollution is a crime. On that note, there’s nothing worse than spoiling all that because of pollution. In my eyes, pollution is laziness. Normally, I am a very liberal person and I wouldn’t think twice about letting people do what they want (as long as they’re not hurting anyone) but I’ve realized I am quite intolerant of this kind of behaviour. If you can’t be bothered to throw away your rubbish in bins just a few meters away, then don’t ‘bother’ coming to the beach at all. Also, although there aren’t any visible factories in the area, on some days, the sea looks more green/grey than on other days because of junk being thrown into it downstream. And although I still think it looks beautiful, it is never the clear blue kind of sea you see in brochures.
I’ve learned that if people weren’t so selfish, we would all be living in a much better world that would benefit everyone.
4. Fresh air is vital for health and growth. Another thing the beach has helped me do is get fitby running and cycling. When there is such a great and natural place to run everyday, I wonder why anyone would go to the gym (yes, people around here do!) to breathe in that recycled air-con air. I know not everybody lives by the beach, but I think that getting outside is very important when growing up. I was actually born in the city, but I still learned to ride a bike outdoors in the street. We spend too much of our days trapped in our houses/cars/offices/schools/work places that I think it would be good for everyone should try to go outdoors as much as they can. Also, I find the sea air quite healing, and perhaps that’s part of the reason why I almost never get sick (touch wood).
I’ve learned that fresh air is a gift that we should always be grateful for.
5. The world carries on. Everyday, the sun never fails to rise and set. The tide never fails to come in and go out. The birds never fail to call every morning. There are some things that will never change (for a few million years at least) which shouldn’t be surprising except that I didn’t realize how much life will go on without me. Of course nothing would stop just for me, but I remember coming back to the the beach for the first time in a long while and thinking “It’s all still the same”. Although it was a little upsetting at first, I came to think of it as a reassuring thing that I can rely on at least some parts of my life to stay just like it was when I was a kid.
I learned that the familiar sound, smell and feel of the beach means it will always be my home.
Have you learned any lessons from where you grew up? I would love to know if I’ve missed out on anything. Please let me know in the comments!