This morning I woke early, my mind awash with thoughts, and so I decided to go for a walk by the sea. It’s the best time to go, especially on summer days when the temperature tops 30˚C and the UV index is extreme. In the cool, dewy light, I joined scores of others who had the same idea. Some were jogging, others were setting off for a swim or to surf, and a few were simply sitting and watching the sun rise up over the horizon. It’s as though all of us needed to be close to the vast wilderness that borders the suburb where I live, this great expanse of water that mirrors the sky.
Like most people, I’ve always loved being close to water. As a child, I was seldom happier than playing on a beach or exploring rock pools. Beaches meant holidays and fun. Growing up in South Wales, my best friend and I would often spend summer evenings exploring and playing and discussing the world on the banks of our town’s gentle river, the Usk, as sand martens flitted about and locals fished for salmon.
Most major cities are built on rivers which were used for drinking water and drainage. You will struggle to find many important cities in the world that do not in fact border water of some sort.
The practice of feng shui has clarified many of my feelings about water. In traditional Chinese thought, water is money, which is not surprising given that water is the medium on which ships could set sail for new places, new markets, and bring back new merchandise (and slaves). Think of spice routes and the maritime trade winds. Having flowing water in front of your home is generally thought to bring good fortune, especially if the home is backed by a mountain. A wealthy city such as Hong Kong is a great example of this. And I don’t have to look far from home to see the wealth-generating aspect of water in my own city, where even a tiny glimpse of harbour, bay or sea will command a premium.
But water is a wild, unpredictable energy, too. It’s incredible that something we can barely hold in our hands can have such a tsunami force, easily toppling people and buildings. And water seeps and spills, getting into everything, making it the energy of secrets and sex (think of the sleazy ports of the past). It flows like words and thoughts. It’s the flow of life itself, like the blood coursing through our veins. But too much water in your life can mean you have a tendency to overthink or be a chatterbox or have too much happening in your life – literally being swamped by life itself. Too little is the opposite of all that. And water is the energy of fear, which can develop into phobias when unbalanced. It can be an interesting exercise to imagine the type of water that characterizes your life. If you’re like me, it might change each day, running the gamut from ocean storm to stagnant puddle and back again.
So I came back from my walk feeling hot and sweaty (dripping water) and needing a glass of water to refresh me. But I felt good. My morning thoughts had swirled about as wild as waves and then, once home, they settled and became orderly. The water in my life had ebbed and flowed and become calm again.
Do you have a favourite place to be close to water?