I'm a child of the sea, born under the sign of the fish. I've lived most of my life on specks of land surrounded by water ... Jersey, Vabbinfaru in the Maldives, Singapore and not forgetting Great Britain, the larger island of my birth. Wherever possible I've lived in sight of the sea. It is to the ocean I turn when I'm troubled and seeking solace. Its magnetic dynamism draws me in; its movement and endlessly changing colour, its shallowness and depth, the way the surf caresses the shore. I can sit for hours on a cliff top or beach staring out across the water - thinking, dreaming, finding inspiration and peace. If you'd've told me I'd find an even greater sense of belonging up in high Alpine mountains I'd've told you were crazy. "Not possible, not in a million years," would've been my adamant reply.
Last week I found myself completely unexpectedly on the summit of the Klein Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, 3883 meters above sea level. That's just over 11,000 feet for those of you who prefer old money. I've cycled across these mountains in the summer and walked in the Himalaya in the same season but I have never been in mountains like this in the snow before. It fair took my breath away. Literally. There's not much air up there. Leaves you feeling a bit woozy for a while. However it wasn't the lack of oxygen that really left me breathless. It was the mountains. The mountains and the sky.
How to put into words the instant feeling of 'home'? How to describe the rootedness to the earth I felt and the connection to the infinite blueness above? How to explain the emotion I experienced that moved me to tears? How to understand the peace and freedom that instantly flowered within me? I can't. It was a total surprise.
As I travelled back home to rural England I found myself wondering how & why this child of the water became, seemingly in an instant, a spirit of the mountains as well. But then, I realise, the 'how' and 'why' matter not. As with everything in life what is, is and what happens is not for questioning but rather for embracing. At the turn of the year from 2015 to 2016 I discovered a world that is both new to me and yet so 'known.'
It just goes to show how wrong I was in my assumption I'd never find a place I would engage with as much as I do with the ocean and a reminder that we just never know what awaits round the next corner.
Dangerous things are assumptions, I'd say.