The sweetest memories of my youth always involve our summer holidays. And these holidays always involved either the beach, the mountains or bush. Whether it be the carnivals, penguin parades or pier donuts at Phillip Island; the fishing, horse riding and bush walking at Thredbo; or the sunsets, theme parks and ocean swims at Surfers Paradise, I found peace in those times. I found love and felt loved. I looked forward to them the whole year and the memories of them lasted a whole year.
On my beach walks this past week I’ve been noticing the families on holidays. A slightly different scene to the usual Byron Bay backpackers or surfers. Yesterday I watched a young boy, about five years old, get up on his surfboard for the first time. Mum was recording the event on her phone, Dad was standing close and directing the ascent and big brother was the cheer squad. It was such a life affirming moment that I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
Others were playing cricket, kicking a ball around, building sand castles, munching on chips and burying one another in the sand. Kids were crying, pulling at dad’s legs, hugging mum’s bosom and towels were being constantly wrapped and unwrapped around youthful bodies. There was a flash of colour as the varying shades of swimsuits mixed in the splashing of the water.
There is something very special and grounding about watching families on holidays. The ties are loosened, the shields are dis-armoured and love is on full display. Even a friend of mine who was dreading the six weeks of constant kid entertaining sent me a short but revealing text the other day saying: ‘fun Christmas with lots of beach swims!’
The place that draws us and allows this unraveling is nature. Whether it be a beach holiday or camping trip, the typical Australian holiday seems to centre around the great outdoors.
It’s only now, as I’ve traveled back to my source – my true nature – that I’ve realised this is no coincidence. And it’s not just about the weather. Summer holidays in nature aren’t only our chance to recharge, but to equilibrate.
It’s a way we all heal. For even a few weeks, once a year, we return to nature; to the place that can always re-balance us. Essentially we are back in our true nature. We are away from the world that armours us, that has us fearful of letting go, that has us caught up in its race.
Although I know they were probably in bags and back pockets, I was so happy to see very few people watching videos or talking on phones at the beach. They were engaged in physical activity of one sort or another. It was like mother nature’s pull and the negative ions of the water wouldn’t allow the space for that type of energy.
Even all those years ago unconsciously I realised this. I knew they’d be at least two weeks a year when I could get back to my source. When I could be free. When I could re-balance.
The fact that those summer holidays blaze more strongly in my memory than any other childhood event says it all!