I love living by the sea, that’s no secret.
I love smelling the salt on the air and watching the sea craft – big and small – glide through the waves out into the gulf. I love the sea birds and their mournful cries that belie their resilience.
They are travellers in the truest sense.
It’s been yet another roller coaster ride, this past month or so. So much I want to share, so much I have to keep quiet. We don’t want to air our laundry in public. Or do we? I’ve always found that to be the best way to really fight the mould and rot setting in. I’m not one for secrets, family or otherwise.
This month I’ve learnt that even the best families have problems and find themselves in trouble. I’ve learnt that teenagers are incredibly resilient and can learn to cope even when confronted with serious scary news. I’ve learnt that there’s always a family behind the headlines, it just happens this time it’s us. My ex appears in court in May.
There’s been other things too.
Mental ill-health in the family, that despite all the affirmations and bold statements on Facebook about the acceptability of mental ill health, at the coal face families just don’t get it. There’s still stigma and shame associated and disbelief. And some maladies seem more acceptable than others, dare I say even politically correct. Depression is OK, but bipolar (or manic depression) schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder…? Let’s not talk about those. There’s even an ad on TV for BK at the moment that mocks ‘madness’ by putting up a young man talking to friends who aren’t there. It’s supposed to be funny. I get that. I find it revolting. I won’t link to it here, it doesn’t deserve the publicity.
And what about all those who are languishing in the justice system? The alcoholics and drug addicts in prison. Those who are disturbed and frankly ill. Don’t they need medical help, not punishment?
For those who care (I hate that word caregiver) and try to soothe the way for the ill the road is lonely and littered with great fat boulders of misunderstanding and prejudice. We’re the ones who have to sort out the finances, the broken relationships, the wrongs..and all the while explaining and advocating and praying for understanding. It’s exhausting.
When I’m feeling depleted and overwhelmed I often head to the beach. There’s something calming and restorative there. When bad news broke I upped sticks and walked to the beach. They’re catching snapper down there just off the boat ramp and this little guy came right in to have a nosey. Cue jokes about a lonely little shag on the beach.
We also headed to the beach on Friday night too after a hellish week. We grabbed the obligatory fish n chips at the dairy and ate them out the newspaper sitting in the shadow of the seawall on the soft cool sand as the light leached from the sky. I think it’s the first time my Englishman has done that very Kiwi thing. Fish n chips on the beach. Though I need to work on him a little to get him to take off his shoes and socks and go barefoot on the sand as I did.
As we walked down the sand in the twinkling twilight, arm in arm, we literally breathed out. All the stress and exhaustion and then on the incoming breath I heard it, for the very first time.
In all my years living on the beach or near the beach I’ve not heard it before. This moment was special.
As the small waves broke on the sand the spray sprinkled dark water picked up a clutch of seashells. And when it released its clutch you could hear the shells tinkling together. The light tinkling music of natural sea chimes.
I’ve always known the sea has music, but to me it’s always been the loud crashing cymbals or the drum of waves on shore, but I’ve never heard this secret sea music before. And on that beach, in the cool as our shoulders lifted, we could finally release a smile.
Have you ever heard the sea’s secret music?