Cha no yu and personal places, Pt 1

It’s that time again.

If I were a car, I would’ve sent myself for service, with special attention to wheels realignment and balancing. Ever felt sometimes like there’s something inside you that needs to be tweaked a little bit? Fine-tuned? Like even while you’re standing on your feet with your heels turned slightly inwards to reflect the size of your hip/bum (at least that’s what yoga instructors tell us) there’s still something missing to help hold your balance and posture no matter how much you control your breathing and suck in your stomach until you can feel your belly button kissing your spine?

I digress – ah but then –

Remember how we are told to ‘go to our special place’ when we need a quick DIY rebalancing? It could be the park, a waterfall or the beach; all we need to do is close our eyes, pay attention to our breathing and ‘find’ ourselves at those places. Being a beach-lover, I’d automatically think of the beach when I want to go to this special place in my head. However, for the past couple of years, I discovered that I can’t. I close my eyes, I relax, I focus on my breathing, but I can’t see the damn beach – I can’t hear the waves pounding the sandy bed, I can’t feel the salty wind in my hair and on my face, I just can’t. I lost it. So what do I do? I pack my bags and head off to the beach whenever I can. When I’m there, everything’s cool. I was in Phuket in July for a business trip, and I took time off in the mornings and evenings to relax at the beach. I enjoy it, truly. I feel the place. I feel the environment. I drink in everything and store it in my mind so that I can retreat to it when needed.

Then I learnt a valuable lesson – hit me like an elephant trunk whacked on my head.

I tried too hard.

That’s it – simply put. I tried too hard and I thought too much. I realised that for me the beach is somewhere that I just need to be there to absorb it. So I decided to test the theory. Early Sept I went to Redang island again, this time with 3 other friends. More beach bunny that snorkel and scuba babe, I stayed back while the rest of them snorkeled away. Then I just stopped taking mental notes of and memorizing the rock formation, the foamy waves, the sights and sounds. Then something amazing happened to me. I actually relaxed. I felt very calm and I greeted my friends’ return with cheery waves and a smiling face (they were rather taken aback – they always tell me I don’t smile enough).

Moral of the story? I have learnt that I still love the beach – loads – but our love affair can only be continued by frequent visits – I need to make my there, be there. I need to feel the sand between my toes. The hot sun on my back. The water on my skin. The salt on my face. I can’t re-create in my head the beach that I love. It’d be just a postcard image – 2 dimensional. It’s not the same beach that I smell and breathe in and never will be.

And it’s ok.

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