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A life by the sea

By Julie Walsh

The sea was always just… there.

I was born in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, grew up within sight of the Irish sea, and moved to Plymouth when I married into the Navy. It wasn’t until I lived in central Europe that I realized how important the sea was to me. No cliffs, no dramatic sunrises – just waiting until the sun rose high enough to peek over the trees near our house. I’d taken the sea for granted and felt oddly claustrophobic! It was good to move back to Plymouth and be close to the sea again. Wanting to reclaim my pre-pandemic and pre-motherhood self, I found myself standing on the edge of the Sound. Watching the waves, I was reminded that I’m part of something much bigger than daily chores. The sea makes me feel both humbled by my insignificance, and in awe of my place in the organic machine that is the natural world.

And now I’ve been brave enough to try it, sea swimming has become a weekly joy that has physical benefits, as well as mental. Whenever I’ve gone to the sea, I’ve always come away feeling calmer and more centered. Whatever cares were weighing me down before, if they weren’t washed away by the waves, then they’re at least made to feel more manageable. And the post-swim buzz is amazing! Go to the sea! Swim if you’re able, or just paddle your feet along the shore – it’s cheaper than therapy and just as beneficial.

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