Learn to surf when you get past 50. It is humbling and enjoyable. It pushes you to extremes in both courage and lung capacity. It is cold and sobering. It will wake you up and let you feel your “aliveness.” Old dogs can learn new tricks.
Having spent a year abroad in Africa and Europe, I realized how important our actual living environment and local is for our health—both mental and physical health. It is important to listen to what your body, mind, and spirit really need. The boiling frog does not know it is being cooked because they get used to the heating of the water. We are like than with our living environments. Until we get out of them, we do not fully realize how impactful their effects are upon us.
In today’s stressful existence, it is even more important to treat yourself to a positive change in environments. If the beach is your healing place, do the drive or trip there and stay for a few days (if you can get away). Or if you are a family man with family obligations, bring the family to the beach. Let your whole family experience the soothing beauty of the ocean. Let them all taste the salt in the ocean’s air. Breathe!
If you love skiing or hiking, head up to the hills. Take a mental health day and drive up there. Take the time—the investment will pay you back seven fold. You love golfing in the sun and lugging your own clubs? Go for it, get outside and knock a little ball around on the green, green grass for a while. Our mental health needs a nature tune-up every now and then. Get away from your computer screen and open your eyes to the wind, sunlight. Deep breathe and move your body with some Qigong, Tai Chi, or martial arts.
It took me being gone for a year just to realize how living in a major American metropolis was stressing me out. Living in Los Angeles for over 50 years was like having a slow-drip of adrenaline constantly cranking into your system. You can NEVER relax or slow down. You can never drop your guard in “La La Land.”
My first day back in the States after being gone for over a year was in a small seaside Los Angeles community — Marina Del Rey. It very different that Los Angeles proper. It is quiet and (near the water) tranquil. The air is cleaner due to the sea breeze. There is lovely moisture in the air, unlike the rest of Los Angeles, which is in essence nothing but a big developed desert. It is hot and rather harsh. Marina Del Rey is a lovely hideaway from the belly of the urban beast.
As I move into another year, I promise myself! I will be at the beach more! I will swim in the ocean more, and taste the salt and minerals. I will FEEL the salt sting in my eyes, cold wet on my skin, and really FEEL the cold ocean. On whatever continent that healing body of water may be. I will give myself the (much deserved) privilege and treat—of taking a taste of the ocean. 2018 is a year to not only grow, but to heal and really FEEL alive. Right here, right now.