Things I love about August (and my annual migration)

I used to dread August. In some ways, I thought it was the coldest and dreariest of all the months down here in the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s taken me a while to fall in love with winter; I am, after all, a tropical girl.

I will always miss home. I pay tribute to how much I have given up when I moved here. In some ways, I also miss my younger years and the person I was then. August signals a rebirth for me. Spring’s just around the corner.

The annual migration I make to this special spot by the coast allows me three life-giving experiences: solitude, solidarity, and awe. “Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself.” Solitude gives me the opportunity to anchor myself and be still. In this humble shack by the ocean, I’m able to stand in awe of life in its immensity. A bunch of friends/family will usually come to stay during the last several days of my retreat (harmony, cohesion, comradeship).

I also like the fact that Southern Right Whales and Giant Cuttlefish make their annual migration to South Australian waters around this time too, winter time. During this time, they play a huge role in the rebirth of their species as well.

Below are some of my favourite snippets from Dr Julia Baird’s book Phosphoresence, from the chapter, Lessons from a cuttlefish:

  • The mind evolved in the sea… the sea is inside us.
  • Something happens when you dive into a world where clocks don’t tick and inboxes don’t ping.
  • Studies have shown that awe can make us more patient and less irritable, more humble, more curious and creative.
  • A swim is a reminder of the vastness of the ocean and all it contains. We spend a lot of time in life trying to make ourselves feel bigger - to project ourselves, occupy space, command attention, demand respect - so much so that we seem to have forgotten how comforting it can be to feel small and experience the awe that comes from being silenced by something greater than ourselves, something unfathomable, unconquerable and mysterious.

PS - I love that Science Week and Book Week is celebrated in August too!

I think the central idea of awe is to quiet self-interest for a moment and to fold us into the social collective. This is also what we sense when we swim in the sea. We become small. When we shrink in significance, we become better at living alongside and caring for others. And we become more content.Dr Julia Baird


Tagged in What messes with your head, winter, birthday, Student life, mental health