It comes in waves.
Name anything you like about life, it always comes in its waves.
Confidence, doubt, pain, joy, contentment, solitude, fear, strength, serenity – everything moves in a rhythm of ebbs and flows, surges and retreats, one interspersed with its opposites.
Waves, they keep on coming.
As an art student in Brighton, the flow of work and expectation on us was huge, and at the end of one particular day I was struggling to keep it together. I walked my 21 year old self down to the seafront and sat on the pebbles to breathe, watching the fresh waves coming, and coming, washing the shingle in, and out, a woosh, and rush, woosh, and rush. Something spoke to me then about the rhythms of life being wave-like. “Keep going,” they said. “Keep in time with us, we’re not ever going to stop.”
After all that graft, many of my friends and I either found great jobs in London or places at the Royal College, either option to be learning amongst legends. Surrounded by all that ambition and achievement, would we sink, or swim? I was completely terrified, struggling to discern my own confused and choppy voice in the big, blousy ambition of world-class, Soho film industry directors and producers, and at times sank like a stone.
I wish I could go back to that younger version of me, help myself with more kindness through the waters and simply say, “Hang on to the truth about waves.”
I would tell stories about being out in a gathering storm on my surfboard, figuring it was time to paddle in when the lifeboat was launched by a gun into a rioting ocean under ugly grey clouds. I would tell of the time my leash got wrapped around a fishing buoy, anchoring me to the seabed as huge breakers ripped over my small body stuck just under the surface. I might describe a time once paddling out from shore to turn around and see only fog, no land, and not another person in sight. I am not and never was an amazing surfer, but I would also tell about the many, many waves I did ride because through all of this and even when it felt utterly, utterly frightening, I learnt how to feel the rhythms, to love them, and ride with them.
The graceful, peeling arc of a wave makes life delightfully, hypnotically compelling. At times overwhelming, yet also there to explain that most moving of sensations when you’re in a trough of fear or distress, the clench of strength to paddle in and ride the next glistening peak that keeps coming with its joy as it ever promised to do.
Those big, beautiful, frothy, cresting waves – look at them coming this summer, and remember whatever happens, all of life always comes in waves.