Oceanic Lessons

By Rebecca Law.

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I used to work in a high rise office building, in fact I spent more than 70 hours a week in that building. I didn’t see the ocean and my ‘nature fix’ was usually a run through the parks of South Yarra, often whilst dark.

Then in September 2012 things changed. I stopped working in the office. I went to Bali. I came home a different person. Suddenly I needed the ocean – the sea air, the sand between my toes and the salty water on my skin. However difficult the day had been it would take away the exhaustion, stress and worry.

Life changed a lot in those next 6 months. I became a surfer, of life. And, in those first few months I got slammed down by the waves more times than I could count. Which is where the learning began. Here’s what an 18 month love affair with the ocean has taught me (so far):

1. Learn to Ride the Waves

In the beginning falling off my ‘board’ was really tough. Like any surfer will tell you, you’ll come up struggling for air and probably be a bit battered and bruised. That’s all it is. You can still get back on the board.

Life is exactly the same – there’s good waves, some day’s its flat and sometimes the waves will take you down. It’s about finding your balance, embracing your strength, accepting the lesson and going after that dream wave.

The best surfers in the world hunt out good waves. Enough said.

2. Flow with the Tide:

I used to have a plan. For the day, week, month, year and decade. When things didn’t go to plan, that upset the plan, so it upset me. I’d resist in every way possible trying to, with great effort to steer things back to my plan.
It was exhausting.

Then I got smashed by a really big wave and I realised it was much easier to go with the flow. I come from a family of sailors, they always sail with the tide. Same goes with fisherman, they’ll fish with the currrent that carries the best fish. Surfers are great at going with the flow – surf’s up they hit the beach! Life’s the same.

If things are flowing your way, embrace it. If things change, accept it – the tide will always change.

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3. Nothing stays the same:

You could go to the same patch on the sand every day for a year and still you’d see something different. The tide would reach a different mark, the ocean would be a different shade of blue, there would be more or less seaweed washed up and so forth.

The ocean is always changing, always moving, always flowing. So is our life. We are interconnected with people. They are changing. We are changing.

When you accept that nothing in life will stay the same, that impermanence is the nature of all things
you will find the key to true freedom. Until you accept this it will be difficult to truly live in the present or accept the flow of life.

4. We are connected. 

Whatever aches in your body or worries your mind will be washed away by the ocean. The salt water has incredible healing properties but beyond this the ocean has powerful healing abilities. Our bodies are primarily made up of water, the ocean is water – we are innately connected.

Every time I visit the ocean it continues to shares it calm strength and innate wisdom with me. It is a constant reminder to slow down, take notice and enjoy life. No matter where I travel, the ocean comes with me – or I go to it. Somehow the ocean even manages to wash away the weight of a challenging day or the exhaustion of a sleepless night and leave in it’s wake a body that feels renewed and reinvigorated.

I am infinitely grateful to the ocean for all the joy and wisdom it has given me this past few years.
In it’s presence I have laughed, cried, twirled in circles and endlessly practiced handstands. Some of my best memories are by its side.

So I finish by saying this. The ocean has all the lessons you are ready to learn. For this reason, honour the ocean. Truly appreciate it’s majesty and beauty. Most of all, express your gratitude by bestowing upon it love. Express this however you see fit. I hope one such way, will be for all of us to better care for our ocean. To protect, respect and nurture it. Afterall, the ocean will always welcome you.

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Photography of Uluwatu, Bali, by Rebecca Law