Let oceans not divide us, but become the glue that binds us all together

It’s the 30th March today, I’m sat on the train, about to leave from Paddington -heading south west, home to Cornwall. I am returning from running some ISKGA training modules for a new expedition center in Kuwait. We are not even a third of the way through the year and yet it feels as if I have already worked myself close to the bone. My movements since the New Year began, have been pretty intense, in an out of Cornwall on a regular basis.

Recent changes at Sea Kayaking Cornwall have left me having to seek external employment through my own business ‘Expedition Paddler’ so that I can meet residual financial obligations, which  were left over from the old format of the company, these have in the main, taken me outside of both the county and the country.

I won’t complain, I still love my job immensely, some would say ‘what job, you don’t call sea kayaking a job do you’? Well I have to say that I do view sea kayaking as a job, yes a job that I love, but still a job, and I apply a level of commitment to this job, that I have never shown elsewhere in my life, sea kayaking is as much a passion now as it was in the beginning, but my engagement with the ocean is stronger than it has ever been.

Why does the Ocean have such a positive effect on a person? When I have a hard physical day on the water, especially if the conditions are rough, I land feeling intensely energized.

When the Ocean is rough, does it release positive energy into the atmosphere?

Well the answer is yes and no, when it is rough, the ocean actually releases Negative Ions into the atmosphere and these are really beneficial for you. Negative Ion’s bear an electrically energised charge and these molecules are in abundance in nature, especially in surf and breaking ocean wave action. They have been proven to be beneficial to the human body, neutralizing free radicals, enhancing the immune system, revitalising cell metabolism, purifying the blood and balancing out the autonomic nervous system, which promotes healthy digestion and deeper levels of sleep.

On the other hand, polluted oceans, remaining in congested office spaces and other areas where there is a restriction in space will actually release positive Ion’s which are bad for you……..

I remember when my first marriage started to break apart, I found emotional peace and a certain degree of harmony, on the ocean, I now understand why I found this to be my safe refuge, it was where I found positivity and healing. I think this will be the same for all of us.

My first positive encounter with the Ocean was at Braunton Sands in North Devon, where my Mum and Dad had purchased me an inflatable Pink Crocodile, I paddled this out into the surf at the tender age of about six and got clobbered by a breaking wave, this was my first big wow factor and has remained with me throughout my life, so when my marriage breakup reached an all time low, I made a decision to try and re-engage with this wow factor and coupled it with another child hood dream, which had been to travel to Japan, to study the martial arts at source. A life long interest in the fighting arts of Japan, coupled with a fascination in Zen Buddhism, I decided to couple my childhood dreams with a present day reality, which was the need to find space, physical space, mental space and emotional space, space to realign, mentally and maybe spiritually. My life was out of control and I needed to apply the brakes and identify with what, where and who I was. I needed to re-align my personal compass, find true North again. I think I had seriously lost my way in life and I decided to try to re-find, possibly even to redefine myself.

This was in 2003, sixteen years ago, I have to say that I have not managed to achieve this, but the search has been both fun and at times painful, but it has always been fuelled by the positive energy of the ocean, my vehicle of choice has been amazing and the environments in which I have chosen to travel through on this inner search have been truly incredible, I have never had a bad day in my office, except when it was quite literally an office.

Although I have not managed to achieve my initial goal of re-finding and re-defining myself I feel that I have achieved a greater level of understanding of what and why I was looking for these things.

We are always changing, evolving, transforming, we are never constant, like the ocean, we will never be the same, on any given day. What I have learnt, through first my paddling, and later on through yoga and meditation, is that if we can still our mind long enough, the wave actions of the mind will settle and allow us to observe who we are, and what we are, this is a constantly changing, evolving mass of sensations.

The physical act of sea kayaking, often allows us to reflect, but I find, more often than not, especially when its rough, very much also puts you into the here and the now.

Right now, with so many people, interacting positively with the ocean, we can see that humanity as a whole, does not. As ocean paddler’s we should all take an active part in doing something about this. Arranging beach cleans, supporting charities such as surfers against sewage or other conservation organisations or we will not be able to continue in this positive exchange for long.

When I was paddling in Sorroya, an island in the furthest reaches of Northern Norway, we were shocked to find the most intense amount of rubbish washed up on the local beaches, it was literally several feet deep in plastic flotsam, washed in from the ocean. We asked the local community, why they didn’t clean their beaches, this was an incredibly beautiful island, deep in the Arctic Ocean, far away from most populated places of the globe, but at the time, in dire need of help.

They said that it was beyond their abilities to impact the amount of rubbish which washed in daily, from all over the world.

In Kerala, India, several years later, walking through the town of Varkala, quite late at night, I witnessed local restaurants and street cleaners, emptying their trash bins of rubbish, directly over the cliffs and into the sea.

If you take a brief look at the currents of the world, you will see that litter, thrown into the sea here, will actually travel south, around the Cape of Good Hope, then across the South and North Atlantic and then end up on the west coast of Norway, picking up companion debris from any of the other countries it happened to visit along the way.

The Oceans are often perceived as being the areas which divide us, but in my opinion, these are actually the areas which connect us all together. The Oceans should be the glue that binds us all together and our commitment to keeping these areas clean and free to flow with energy should be a collective concern and responsibility for us all.