As the clouds and thunder roll in across these southern skies, and the rain finally begins to fall, I find myself grateful on behalf of all the dried-up grasslands, parched wildlife and wilting plants. And as I contemplate this change in weather and breathe a sigh of relief, I realise that I used to write much more here on these pages. It's about finding the time of course, in-between earning a living, spending time immersed in the sea and home duties. But something I heard yesterday has gently persuaded me that it’s important to write things down and to share by written word what we’re all about. If nothing else, writing helps me make sense of the world and what goes on around me.
This something that I heard, was one of the Selsey Sea Bathers sharing what it means to her to be a be a part of this little community. She was new to Selsey and as we know too well, it’s not always easy finding yourself in a new place, particularly when it’s a move made more because it felt needed, rather than entirely desired. She’d known Selsey years ago, yet like everywhere, it had changed beyond all recognition, and she struggled to find her place here, her tribe, herself. She yearned for all that she’d left behind – the people, the environment, the ease – she yearned for the person she was, back there in that familiar place. And she felt this so acutely, that one day she decided she was going to pack up and return back to where she felt she belonged.
And then one day in the midst of making an agonising decision that would uproot her once again, she joined the Whatsapp group of the Selsey Sea Bathing Society. And that day was the beginning of a change in how she felt about the world. Instead of waking up each day and looking at the metaphorical cloud that would roll in above her head, she began looking forward to it. She’d hear a ping! and see a swim was suggested by someone and off she’d go to join in, or sometimes just watch, feel less alone and chat to others. And so she began to make friends and just like I too had felt all those years ago when I first had the idea of forming this little community, she no longer felt alone in the sea. We discussed this together, too – that it’s wonderful to have a dip on your own – but it's doubly wonderful to know that you can do both – feel the wonder of a solo dip, but knowing that whenever you need it, you can find someone to share it with.
Hearing what she had to say melted my heart and reminded me why this all began in the first place – to share a love of the sea with others. She summed it up so beautifully, saying for her it’s about
Friendship, Health and Fun
We’ve had so many new people come along over the past year or so and this is a reminder that sometimes it’s good to take the time and get to know each a little better. The winter dips have been incredible - dare I say it - life-changing, certainly for me, and I know others, too. But they are brief – a quick undress, a yelp, a smile, a glow and a rush back to life’s duties. The summer is a little different – we can linger longer, certainly for the lunchtime and early evening dips at least – but still, there’s not often the time to delve deeper into who we are as people outside of the sea, to find out how we’re really doing and what’s really important to each of us. Life can feel short, frantic and sometimes a bit of a treadmill if you’re working, caring for the elderly, or for pets or children, or whatever it is. Some of our lives are full, some of our lives are a little less so. Sometimes we feel surrounded by love, other times, less so. And for some people there is no one to turn to, to share our thoughts for the day, the week, the month, the year. Sea bathing is a little opening - an opportunity to bask in the glory of immersing our bodies in water, but also to share a thought, a smile, some kindness, enthusiasm, love, connection.
With that in mind, you’ll see that we’ve created a few new and (hopefully) fun experiences for next year and also one for this September! You'll see that some of these are swimming events, to encourage people who might like to set little/big goals for themselves in 2023. They are lightly (not fully) organised. They may not be for all of you, or even many of you, but we're catering here for all wants and desires. Others are for little sea bathing day trips to places we may not have been before and require no swimming ability. Keep an eye out, too, for an Angela-inspired charity-focussed joint challenge for 2023! There will also be our monthly dips of course, and those will go up once the new tide timetable comes out. And then there's the ever-present Whatsapp group which will continue growing, no doubt!
And if you have an idea for a get together, please remember that this community flourishes the more we put into it. So don’t feel shy, just drop me a note and if we can, we will! But it’s equally important to remember that the simple idea of the Whatsapp group and daily/weekly dips can mean the world to someone out there. So reach out and suggest as many as you like, because it’s possible that it may just make someone’s day....
Happy, glorious, rainy day to you all and may we be grateful for all that we have, all that we are and all that we can be.