Build it so you can walk away and come back another day

Happy 2020 everyone.

I try to participate in a group open water sea swim each morning. It’s the perfect tonic to start the day. After the swim and a cold shower at the beach, I treat myself to a black coffee. It’s hard to beat.

Last week it blew a pumping onshore wind, which swept in a lot of seaweed and blue bottles. Blue bottles are like jellyfish and have a nasty sting that burns like hell and then lasts a couple of days. If you get stung, your arm looks like it’s been licked by a leather whip. It’s not a pleasant experience.

This morning, the wind had dropped, and I arrived to overhear that the blue bottles were out in full force. There’s were ‘clumps’ of them floating just beyond the shore break. I looked around to get a feel for the crowd. Some people debated whether to risk it. I understood why it wasn’t a straightforward no. It was Sunday morning, and some of them had traveled a long way to get here – should they risk the blue bottles and get into the water? I watched as some of them waded into the white water with only speedos, caps, and swim goggles.

I stood for a minute and then, a little disappointed, turned around and headed back home. I’m lucky enough to be able to come back tomorrow for another swim, or the next day, or the day after that. I know that the swim and community are essential to me, so I’ve structured my life around these moments where I don’t have to risk getting stung for a fix. I get to say next time.

Structure your life around the things that bring you joy or relieve your stress. Build it into your daily rituals. It shouldn’t have to feel like the last hurrah each time.

When the structure is in place, then it’s a lot easier to enjoy it day-to-day. And you also get to say next time.

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