Balance and paddleboarding

2 people on stand up paddleboards in the ocean

We may have just ticked over into autumn but my mind is still in summer.

What does summer mean to you? Summer to me always meant more time in the ocean for diving, surfing, hanging out with friends, having adventures, barbecues, laughter, coastal clean-ups, stunning sunsets, family reunions, summer sport and so on. It meant storing away my heavy winter dive suit and packing away extra weights from my dive weight belt. It meant nighttime was shorter and I felt like I had more time in daylight for both work and leisure. I remember my school days and how I looked forward to summer break and a chance to continue my education outside of the classroom with my friends. While finishing university as an undergraduate student, I recall the anticipation of summer holidays and the opportunity to travel and explore the world. 

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.John Steinbeck

Summer can also be a scary time, the threat of bush fires, just one of them. Life is fluid, that’s one of the many things that 2021 taught me. It’s being able to ride the waves, whilst also not being afraid of going underwater sometimes. It’s not always about strength and power, but also being able to be humble, patient, empathetic, still and calm. It’s balance. And while we’re talking about balance, one of the highlights for me this summer was trying out something new in the ocean - paddle boarding.

I was excited but also very nervous. As a diver and frustrated marine ecologist, I’m more comfortable in water or underwater than being over it, so the prospect of balancing on a board over water made me feel a bit edgy. Nevertheless, I am always just keen to try anything that will take me close to the ocean. Seacliff is such a stunning coastal area so close to the city. You can even take the train. We had such good weather the day I went. The stand-up paddle boarding shop was right in front of the beach and so very close to the yacht club. The team there was very welcoming and warm (oh and they made sure to point out the stingrays cruising by right next to where we were paddling).

I think I’ll need to seriously make time for more paddle boarding in my life this year. Not only was it a great workout for my body but it also gave me a chance to focus on my breath, focus on the present, and simply be in awe of the ocean. It was really special to share that experience with my sister. If there’s anything that’s really great for wellbeing, it’s being outdoors. I was so worried about falling off the board and feeling so “uncool” though. Well, I fell off the board. Twice. And I couldn’t be happier. I think it wouldn’t have been an ocean experience if I actually didn’t get into the water. Balance though, I need to get better at that.

The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.Isak Dinesen


Tagged in What messes with your head, summer, Student life