This is what happens when I try to take a day off

I went surfing today. I can count on one hand the times I have been surfing since having Star. My dear husband decided we had been working too hard and needed to spend time together like we used to. So I cleared my schedule and we dropped Star off at daycare as usual, then headed to the beach.

A thunderstorm had broken the heat wave we had been suffering, and it was raining – a lot. The sky was grey and ominous. Basically, it wasn’t very inviting at all. The surf was relatively flat, but also choppy due to the onshore winds. But it was a Monday morning and we had a wide, flat stretch of beach all to ourselves, with only the seagulls as company.

Being out on the ocean is like meditation and pilates in one. Great for the core and for the soul. Being able to catch some waves is the icing on the cake. And I did get some good ones – with the coaching of my darling husband, who patiently stayed in the water and cheered as I paddled and popped up. It was like old times.

I emerged from the ocean at 1pm, showered and changed, and checked my phone. A message saying could I do a radio interview at 3:30pm. We rushed home and unfortunately they didn’t end up calling. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back in touch with them as it will be a great opportunity to sell the Acupause study to the whole of Australia.

At 4:30pm, as I was getting dinner ready, the phone rang again. Daycare. Star had been bitten, not once, but twice, by her classmates. She was fine but might have a bit of bruising later. She was unbelievably cheerful, as usual, when I picked her up, but later this evening the bite marks became more prominent – several tiny arcs on her arm.

Is it a coincidence that the other parts of my life manouver their way into a day off? Can we ever really have a “day off”? What does that mean? I’m getting the idea that life is a rich tapestry of interwoven threads, not a patchwork of discrete blocks. And like surfing, a balancing act is not a static thing. It’s something you have to work to achieve with each wave that threatens to wipe you out. But with practice and sticking to the basics, you can ride that wave and enjoy it. “Paddle paddle paddle, feet together, push up, aim to the right”. Or, as my surf instructor in Noosa said, “Don’t stop untilĀ  you know you’ve got it”. Wise words.

The last time I went surfing

It was our last day in Bali. I wasn’t supposed to be surfing as I had injured my fingers by grabbing my leash during a wipeout, and I’d taken quite a bit of skin off. But the day was so perfect – 2-3 foot clean waves at Kuta Beach, and the water was so blue and inviting. I didn’t even have my rash vest or board shorts with me. It didn’t take long before I headed over to our usual surf hire spot and eyed the available boards. I picked out a 6’6″ pink surfboard that had a pink hibiscus on it and hired it for two hours. Perfect. I taped my fingers up once again and raced into the surf, clad only in a bikini.

I caught wave after sweet wave, gasping with the sheer exhilaration of being pushed along by the force of the beautiful blue ocean. The spontaneity of my decision heightened the pure enjoyment of those two hours. I emerged, reluctantly, at the end of the session, brown and feeling quite intoxicated. It was simply the best five dollars I had ever spent.

Some days, some afternoon, some moments just have a magic about them that you will never forget. Sometimes when you return to the same place it seems different, not as wonderful as before, a bit faded. But the memories live on inside you. This is one of those memories that I know I will look back on with much fondness in my ripe old age – that perfect day on Kuta Beach.

(Addendum: It wasn’t actually the last time I went surfing. On returning to Melbourne I had a paddle one cold early Spring day – I was 7 weeks pregnant, having been very newly pregnant in Bali. But that surf took a lot out of me and I haven’t returned – yet – but I will, when the ocean beckons and the warmer weather entices).