The pool at Icebergs at Bondi is an iconic part of Sydney, even for a Melbourne-dweller like myself. It’s as familiar to me as the Harbour Bridge, partly because I’m happiest underwater, and partly because it’s not stuffed full of sharks like the rest of Sydney Harbour. It provides that mental safe haven in its roughly hewn concrete and rebar side walls.
The location is quintessential Sydney, and the real beauty flows from the waves that crash in fury, clean over the top of the pool walls. Anyone who has stood outside in a storm with a grin on their face knows that feeling.
Safety with the Wild
I find true peace in the juxtaposition of safety with the wild and feeling every element around me. The rational versus the instinctive.
One of the most calming and relaxing things I’ve ever done in my life was to tandem skydive. While my friends were throwing up on themselves on the way down (true and very funny story that earned them many rowdy beers at the pub later) I was completely blissed out.
I had no control. Someone else was driving the parachute, and I couldn’t do anything to help myself if I needed to. I knew if it was going to go wrong then it would be over with a wet bang, but pushing through the air at such speed, and the temperature change crashing through icy cold clouds over Barwon Heads was nothing short of bliss. I had completely let go.
A brilliant movie that resonated incredibly with me, called Samsara, tells a story of Tashi, a man who is seeking balance and peace during the clamour of his day-to-day life, after being raised as a monk, and leaving his monastery for love. He fails, and in his failure he cheats, runs, and breaks down.
During Tashi’s attempt to run back to the monastery in search of his elusive peace, he learns the lesson that his wife, who is engaged in the same day-to-day pressures of money, family and community as he, has achieved a far better understanding of balance and peace than him.
Our lives are chaotic by their very nature. It’s inescapable.
We do need peace among the chaos to survive, if only to catch our breath for a split second. While lengthy meditations, massages and retreats are gorgeous, they aren’t always feasible, so we are simply forced to find serenity and peace among the chaos.
Serenity can be very elusive indeed. Serenity comes from acceptance. We can accept that we do the right thing by others, but we don’t have to like, or love, everyone in our circle. We don’t need to spend unnecessary time with those who drain us. We can be kind to ourselves and respect that we’re going to get things wrong or fail to do the right thing on occasion.
Our minds can be tricky things; humans have an amazing ability to over-think our actions when we should be following our instincts and our mind can lead us in directions that don’t lead to serenity. A hard won lesson for me is that peace and serenity comes in moments, not lengthy passages of time, and these moments can calm us for weeks or months.
Our instincts are often visceral rather than rational. They are nature rather than nurture. We need to listen, taking from the heart and pushing to the head, and make rational decisions for an easier life and moment of peace and calm. Like the cold sonic boom of an ocean wave over a concrete swimming pool wall, we all go through periods of discomfort and awkwardness to achieve serenity among the chaos.