A couple of years ago I was sitting in a classroom in Hainan, China’s wonderful, tropical southern island. The topic had gotten onto Chinese astrology, and my Chinese teacher was in the process of reading out the astrological chart she had printed out for me. She told me various things about my character, love-life and work but what struck me the most were her words “you lack water”. I asked her to elaborate and she told me that I should seek to live near water or at least to incorporate water features into my living space if I was to find happiness…
Fast forward to 2011 and I have indeed found myself living near the sea, namely the beautiful Seto Inland-Sea which separates the Shikoku and Honshu islands of the Japanese archipelago. Since that curious Chinese lesson, I have realized that the sea can and does in fact play a surprisingly profound role in my life.
As you can imagine, starting life in a foreign country, trying to learn the local language and settling into a new job has proven to be a real challenge for me. And when I factor in all the other problems that even a “regular” person might face – be they financial or otherwise – then at times I’ve had a lot on my plate. In China and indeed Japan there have been problems that apparently had no solution, and my brain just seemed to be in a feedback loop where it was impossible to focus on anything else until I was almost totally consumed.
In times of crisis my natural instinct has always been to seek solace in nature. But I have only recently found that it is the almost magical effect of being near the sea that has helped me the most. Simply put, when I sit quietly and watch the sea, I find it impossible to worry about anything at all . The negative hold over my mind seems to vanish as though it were a tiny speck of drizzle in an endless ocean. Just gazing out at the water, the vast, mysterious and all powerful expanse of nothingness, has a soothing, hypnotic effect on my consciousness. And my mind is instantly refreshed, allowing me to think clearly and perhaps most importantly of all – allowing me to not think of anything. It is then that I realise just how trivial it all was.
Living 15 minutes from the port here in Kagawa, I often come to feel the dramatic effect of the sea-wind as it reinvigorates my spirit, and the powerful yet comforting sound of the waves as they crash against the pier.
Happily, there is no “lack of water” in my life now.