I was 27-ish, young and heart-broken, looking for something, anything that would make me feel alive again when I decided to take a quick solo trip to Portugal. I needed a place where my mind would find comfort, peace and what I needed beyond everything, stillness.
The windows of my corner bedroom in the beach house were overlooking the Atlantic ocean. Every day for a week I fell asleep and woke up to the same, majestic melody: the restless roaring of breaking waves. I remember the rising sun kissing my face as I lowered my hands to a prayer. My feet sank into the warm sand as I tried to hold my warrior still. I spent hours on a surf board. I got stuck in a sticky wetsuit unable to unzip it from the back. I laughed and cried with strangers who later became friends for life.
Nothing in my life changed during that week: I was still unloved by the boy I adored, my mum was in and out of hospital with the final stages of lung cancer and the career I had sacrificed so much for was heading nowhere. Every time I looked at my phone, I felt knots in my stomach in anticipation of sudden bad news.
Yet, everything in my life changed during that week. My mind started to slow down and occasionally it found total stillness – I could finally fall asleep without hours of anxious fidgeting. I grew to understand that there were certain things in life I couldn’t control. I can’t force anybody to love me, I can’t stop time, I have no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. All I can control is how I react.
When you follow a wave with your eyes all the way to the shore, as I did so many times that week, you see how everything is always in motion: moving forward is what the world does. We are born, just like the waves, out of something extraordinary. We create more waves around us. We live, we fade away. When you look at the horizon, where the ocean melts into the sky, you understand how little we are. Everything else seems insignificant.
3 months later my mum passed away and 7 years on this still hurts like nothing else ever would. Not long after, I moved to London for my dream job. Against all the odds I also found love in a way I’d never experienced it before.
When you start doing your own little things, the world makes room for you, doesn’t it?
I’m 35-ish now. I’m sat next to an overpacked suitcase in my East London home and I’m going to travel alone once more. Alone with my racing mind that desperately craves stillness. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time. Let’s see how my life changes this time, shall we?