My Zen place… excluding the sunburn

As a little girl The Little Mermaid was my number one movie and the VHS tape was always on repeat. I used to sing all the songs but close my eyes whenever Ursula came on screen. Of course now I dream of playing that role and belting ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ on stage, but I digress. I dreamed of turning into a mermaid and whenever we’d go swimming I tried to spend more time underwater than actually swimming… Not to mention practising ballet moves and singing my heart out in the water.

I’ve always loved being around the sea. I find it to be very calming. The little swoosh sounds the waves make when hitting the sand on a calm sunny day, or the much louder crashes of gigantic waves crashing against a cliff or the side of a fort or breakwater.

I don’t consider myself a good swimmer which does put a dent in my little mermaid dreams. Sadly, throughout the years I have grown to be quite “scared” of the sea. I panic when I can’t see what’s in the water around me and get even more scared of my legs getting caught in something. I calm down a bit if I wear a mask and actually look into the water to see what’s around me. I’ve also always been rather apprehensive about just jumping into the water, whether it’s a pool or the sea. I get very cold, very quickly. So jumping into water that always feels cold to me, never sat well with me. All this being said, being inside the water does not necessarily work that well, so maybe stick to just being around it? Oh yes please!

Boats are absolutely perfect for that. You can be as close as possible to the water without actually being in it. You can also get as far away from people as you like, which contributes to the calm. The place I find most peaceful has to be Comino. There seems to be something magical about that island and the sea surrounding it. Oh by the way, I’m talking about Comino in April/May when the place is completely deserted apart from the few creatures that inhabit it, and of course the ever present Salvu. 

*For those of you not too familiar with our little archipelago called The Maltese Islands, Salvu is literally one of only three people who live on this very tiny island. The other two are family members. The Maltese archipelago is so small that most of the time, it doesn’t even show on maps. Can you imagine just how tiny the third smallest island from the archipelago is? Salvu happens to be a close family friend of my in-laws, so I’ve been lucky enough to have met and chat with this truly charming gentlemen on quite a few occasions.

Walking around the island, taking in the surroundings, the views and the calmness around are totally awe inspiring. Exploring the caves, staring into the turquoise sea, studying the rock formations of the cliffs and wondering what sort of violent storm tore parts of them off. I get completely lost in its natural beauty. To me spending a weekend in the waters of Comino is comparable to the best weekend break. I feel completely restored after a day or two and incredibly inspired, to an extent that I’ve done quite a bit of reading and writing there, including large chunks of my Masters dissertation.

This place has such a special place in my heart that I even wanted my pre wedding photo session to be taken in Comino, and sure enough that is what happened. Although I originally managed to get everyone rather hyped about the prospect of an adventure, and ‘something different’, I can assure you that I made quite a few people swear, but the results are simply stunning. That being said, attaining the photos was nothing short of an ordeal. Just imagine having hair and makeup done bright and early in the morning, putting on a pretty dress, sticking to ballerina shoes cause there is going to be lots of walking, and preparing snacks and drinks for “the team”. Might I add that this also involved catching a tourist boat and getting the oddest stares from very confused tourists probably trying to decipher what famous blockbuster we must be filming. We did have all the camera equipment after all. After the bewildered scrutiny of onlookers followed a walk up to the Comino tower, me in my pretty dress and pearls, surrounded by a party of men; all of us hauling photographic equipment, and bags of refreshments, and of course, my high heels in store. Curse words fluttering the air around us, I’m sure the men were having second thoughts for being enlisted in my demented expedition. The only consolation I could offer was ‘At least it’s March and we’re not doing this in the August heat.’ Alas, they did not seem much amused. Sorry boys… I know that was a day you’ll never forget; I’ll never forget it for other reasons.

However, as time passes I am more and more coming to the realisation that it’s not the actual water that calms me down, but rather the solitude that affords me peace…. Apparently, as much as I love being around people, I also love being alone; possibly even more in fact. People who know me would never consider me an introvert or imagine that I enjoy being alone. I live for the stage and the limelight and as a Leo, I’m a born attention seeker. Paradoxically, I’m actually a very shy person that will not go up to speak to someone if I have never met them before unless that person speaks to me first. On the odd occasion I have mustered the will and initiated a conversation, but it took considerable effort to do so. Apart from that, I absolutely love spending time alone. How else am I going to find enough peace to quiet my overthinking brain to focus on a single task like reading or writing? Yes a person can be a sort of extrovert and introvert at the same time. The technical term for it is ‘social introvert’. I think I can classify myself as one of these beings. Getting back to my main point, during my alone time I can either take time to process the millions of thoughts that run through my head simultaneously, or to literally try and forget everything and just get lost in the beauty of nature.

Of course, I’ve totally missed out on these amazing experiences this year. First it was this pandemic, and now that restrictions are easing up, it’s been too windy on the weekends to go out to sea. This has taken a bit of a toll on my heart as I long for that calm that being at sea affords me. Of course the pandemic has been difficult on everyone and we’ve all been trying to deal with the circumstances as best we can, but sometimes it’s the little things that hit closest to home. I’ve been noticing that I’ve been more moody over the past weeks. I have found myself wondering whether the fact that I haven’t had the opportunity to restore my energy has been a key contributor to this. I’m trying to find ways of spending time in nature (and away from people) through other means, but it’s obviously not the same.

Whilst we’re all hoping for better days, I’m hoping for tiny, everyday miracles, of perhaps one weekend with good weather. The meteorological report is promising calm winds, so let’s hope nature obliges and I can finally get my first weekend at sea. Bring on the wine, my camera, walking shoes (for Comino), swimsuits (and cardigans for when I get cold), books and writing pads… and my Zen!

*Yes, the featured image was taken “a while ago”… quite a few years (and kilos less) ago actually 😉 but I simply love it. As for that sunburn… what a nightmare! It was April and slightly windy, so I was quite cold and stayed with a sort of long sleeved beach dress for most of the day, not realising that the sun was burning my exposed skin. Apart from it being painful, my skin peeled twice over and I had what looked like burn marks for a few months. The takeaway from this event? I won’t leave home without sunscreen in my bag from March onwards, and I’d rather spend all year looking like a ghost than get burnt like that again.

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