Whipsy // Autumn Swells

This isn't my usual post. My posts are usually upbeat and celebrating all the positives about Cornwall; the ocean, health, well-being, and all the good things that come with this life here in this beautiful place I am lucky enough to call home! I have been struggling mentally, emotionally and physically the last few months, for a number of reasons.

It wasn't until this night, after having been in the water, that I felt I could write about it. After countless nights of not being able to sleep until 2am/3am in the morning, and even then, consistently waking up throughout the night; I felt I could finally put something down. 

It is not the most profound, nor deep or compelling; so my apologies if this doesn't quite float your boat. But writing this had an incredibly therapeutic effect on me that made me feel a little lighter in my thoughts, and allowed me to breathe that little bit deeper, a little less sharp. It isn't a post of enlightenment or of some sort of awakening, it's just something I had to put down on paper.

The sun hadn’t yet set behind the clouds, but there was barely any sunlight visible anyway. The heavy, grey clouds lay like a thick blanket. Hurricane Ophelia encroached ever closer, bringing with her a warmth uncommon in Cornwall this late in the autumn.

The ocean and sky were morphing into each other. I skipped down the steep, wet steps, wary of slipping with my board held tight to my right side; allowing two surfers on their way up to pass by me. A friendly nod and thanks sending us on our separate ways.

Reaching the bottom of the steps, where the cold concrete met cloud-like sand. Reveling in that comforting feeling underfoot; an immediate wave of contentment rolled through me. I looked down, watching and feeling the velvet glide between my toes, with sharp, dry fragments of seaweed scattering.

I glanced up at the surf. A set had just rolled in making it look far heavier than it did from up on the cliff. Oh fuck it. I’d just changed into my wetsuit in record timing and I still had the faint taste of alcohol coursing through my body.

I sprinted down the beach, all too aware of the quickly dwindling light. A fog or mist of some sort seemed to be descending, giving this familiar, welcome place an eerie feel that I’ve felt many times here before. Always heightening my senses, but a sort of comfort too.

Slowing down as I reached the shore, the tide not as low as I had originally thought, I jumped over some mussel clad rocks, dipping in and out of deeper rock-pools, attempting to reach the rip between the set.

Paddling out, there were two guys catching their last waves in, lying flat with bellies on boards. I looked round, knowing there only fragments of light left; about 20 minutes worth, if that. I paddled out with the rip, finding two other guys sitting out back waiting for the next set.

The water was calm, despite the large swell rolling in, and surprisingly clear despite the mingling of cloud and ocean. The sets rolled in, lining up nicely. I caught my first wave, and for once, after a couple weeks having had my fair share of poor surfs where nothing clicked; it all seemed to fit.

Maybe it was the alcohol, ashamedly, coursing through my veins. Lowering inhibitions, relaxing muscles, releasing tension and funnily enough, focusing my mind on exactly what I wanted to do. Lining up on this beautifully crafted wall. Cutting in, flowing with a feeling of elation I haven't felt for a while. It all seemed to click into place, in these few moments, for some reason.

It felt good anyway. Really good. Paddling back out, I held a steady grin, yelling to my friend that had joined me out there.

I forgot how good it is, and these waves were just so perfect, I should have been in much earlier. At least an hour ago, but my mind just wasn’t in it. It hasn’t been in it at all, recently.

I bought a bottle of whisky the other day, the smallest bottle, but a bottle nevertheless. It was on a Wednesday, possibly Thursday. I can't remember what day.

It’s Sunday now and I’ve been drinking it every night, mixed in with hot water, lemon and ginger. I'm not ill, or not even feeling like I'm on the brink of catching anything. It's only for the hope of it sending me to sleep a little quicker.

Despite this help, I still don’t sleep until 2am, sometimes 3am. Wake at 8am for work. I can't complain about 8am though. 8am is late in the grand scheme of jobs and waking up for work. This time last year I was arriving at work at 6am, in a job I hated, so I feel lucky now.

Still, I know it’s not good for me, but I didn’t know what else I could do. The yoga and the meditation, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Despondent and detached from any sort of motivation or desire to be the healthy individual I normally am. This is definitely a low point. I know I’ll make it out of it eventually, but for now, this seems to be the daily struggle.

I paddled back out and sat out back waiting for the next one to roll in. A few more perfect waves. I didn’t expect it to be so good, not like this, and just the four of us out. The other guys were waiting for the lefts to roll in, whilst Ems and I were waiting for the rights.

Catching another one, enjoying it just as much as the first and the last, that thick sheet of glass underneath. Everything clicking into place, every move working just the way I wanted it to. By now the haze had lowered, and the mist and drizzle hovered low.

I pulled off the back of the wave noticing I had ridden it most of the way in.

I stood gazing back out, squinting in the darkness attempting to pick up the last rays of light. I could only really make out the white horses. I lay down my board, then lay myself on the surface of the water, floating upright. I welcomed the salt water rinsing through my hair whilst gazing up at the darkening grey.

It wasn’t cold, mid-October, and the 4mm seemed to be doing the trick. I felt a warmth lying there, wallowing in the shallows.

Standing up and splashing my face, I felt that familiar feeling slowly ebb its way back. A wave of contentment rolling over me that only the ocean can return. I held my hand up signalling over to Ems; a dark silhouette just further down to the right of the beach, on her way out to come join me.

"When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused." Rainer Maria Rilke