Embracing The Wild Ocean
It's late September, and the day feels fresh & Autumnal. I'm stood in shorts on the beach in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry. Cold, embarrassed and rapidly filling up with regrets, I push on. The tiny ripples run up the shore and wrap around my feet sending a numb pain up through the soles. As I walk forward, my breathing intensifies. A strange mix of anxiety and a reaction to the cold waters of the Atlantic, which I haven't embraced in over a decade. I wade out, pushing through the breakers and hoping above all else to catch just one wave. One wave to make this whole crazy thought a worthwhile one. The waves are average in size, well-spaced, and there's scarcely a soul around the beach.
Finally, I make it to where the water rests just above my knees, my legs starting to feel numb, and the chill of the breeze marrying the spray from the waves, sparking goosebumps across my torso. I'm cold. Spotting an approaching wave, I turn to the shore and ready myself for a body surf. Before I have the chance to realise it, the wave hits me, and I find myself knocked off balance and under the water. For a brief moment, I remain underwater, remembering the countless times I did the same as a child. Jumping up, I turn to see another wave approaching and ready myself once again.
Growing up, I spent the bulk of my summer days leaping around the edges of the Atlantic Ocean in my hometown of Ballybunion. My father often referred to my brother and I as "water rats", as we spent so much time in the ocean. I loved it. I could scarcely imagine something that created as much joy. At some point along the way, I lost sight of that. I became conscious about my weight, and I refused to go to the beach. Even when I did go, I recall spending days there at age 17, 18, up to 20, where I wouldn't take my baggy hoody off due to the embarrassment I felt about my body. I'd sit there in a black hoody, on a roasting hot day. Looking back, I wonder how I stuck it. In a way, it's a reflection of the way I have lived. A life of succumbing to the fears and worries, and shying away from challenging those fears. Something I realised I must permanently change this past September.
The ocean has always been a source of calm for me. An infinite source of inspiration and clarity that never fails. And I ran from it. I fled from that feeling of joy, because of insecurities about my weight. Now, I'm focused on living healthier, on being active, on working out and of getting back into the ocean and spending more time in nature. I'm shaping my goals with an urgency and clarity that has evaded me for too long.
In doing all of this, in accepting my errors and focusing forward, I've realised the real values of failing. Of learning from those failures. I've learned that how you react to the experiences that befall you matters more than the events themselves. How you learn from them and move forward is the essential detail. Like jumping for that first wave after over a decade, sometimes the choices made won't go as planned. You miss. But, in doing so, you learn and rediscover. Lessons that apply across moments past and what lies ahead.
I lost my camera to water damage this past summer, and I reacted poorly. It left me feeling fed up, and like everything was going against me. Looking back, it was the worst reaction possible. Now, I see it as an inconvenience, a tiny, unexpected, and cumbersome stepping stone. But a reason to shy away from photography, and to feel lost? Absolutely not. I didn't have insurance on the gear. It's a failure on my part. Again, the solution is simple: Pause, learn, & move forward! I'm making the moves to do just that. Plus, I still have my phone which can produce beautiful stills and videos.
With all of this said, the last month or two have provided moments to ask what it is I want to do in my career and my life. There are a bunch of essential steps ahead in doing all of this. I'll be sharing them here as they mould together in the coming month.
The first step is releasing a lot of new products. They will all go live at the shop by Saturday (18.11.2017).
As with going to the beach, and my all too often irrational fears, I'm finally ready to embrace that wild ocean, that world of unknowing and the incredible opportunities that it holds.