Leading life and happiness coach
AND SO to the coast. In Melville’s Moby-Dick, Ishmael, the storyteller of the hunting of the white whale, says that when he feels restless he takes to the high seas. So it is that the primal soup of surf, sand and out-of-season seaside torpor drew me to seek retreat for a week of thought and brain relief by the sea.
Life had been dealing me some bum cards before the festive season and a desire for escape, recalibration and perhaps, at last, to start my novel, which had been nipping at my psyche for some time.
An Airbnb for a week is always a good idea – cosy, well equipped and a home-from-home experience only with a sea view and better bed linen. There’s something poignant and melancholic about a British holiday resort out of season and in winter, with the grey sea reflecting the gun metal hue of the skies and my glowering mood. Escapes are always thought-provoking and challenging. What are we escaping from?
Divorce coaches report a spike in enquiries post-Christmas and holidays but going away on my own; I’ve nobody else to blame.
As a coach I have often trotted out the line – have a life you don’t have to holiday from – but sometimes the demands, the needs of others, the ennui, overwhelm and call for a change of scene.
Spa breaks are merely places to go to be temporarily distracted by sitting in hot tubs with the vain hope the heat will melt away the fat. Been there. Not places for thought or reflection but a stopgap of avoidance and controlled downtime. Time to think, to make sense, to listen to the whispers proved more of a courageous task than I had bargained for.
It’s amazing how little time there is to reflect when we are plugged in to the internet, keeping busy with chores, phones and the demands of modern existence act as a barrier to realisation and self-awareness.
Some people use “busy-ness” to keep life at bay, others obsessively talk, downloading every thought without process and pure silence and solitude is not only a rare phenomenon that some, if given the choice, would avoid with as much prejudice as getting stuck in a lift with a cottonmouth snake.
I made what others would see as little literary progress but it’s all in the preparation, an artist friend tells me. That’s a relief. The joy of long walks in big coat and scarf and seaside morning jogs was an excellent, spiritually uplifting gift. Riding my thoughts from numb nothingness, wresting with eel-like emotions, to revisiting sepia-coloured buried memories to sheer gratitude and peace. There really was no escape on this escape.
A meditation practice or a bit of yoga is a great stopgap amid the chaos of life. However, if you ever have the chance for a protracted period of elected solitude (not life-imposed loneliness – there is a big difference) and have the courage and commitment to fully let life settle without responsibility or cause I would recommend it.
I will never forget this week away from home. Visiting me.