Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The perfect day

Sitting in the dark, scooping beans from the tin with a spoon fashioned from the top of the empty milk carton that will later become my breakfast bowl, I feel happy. A deeply relaxed happiness I haven't felt for some time. I'm content just to be. Just to sit. Just to listen to the sea.

I drift off to sleep to the sound of a guitar from the camp in the trees behind the beach. Some time later I wake feeling cold and climb into my sleeping bag. The moon is unusually bright now, lighting up the beach like a weak, white sun. I fall asleep again easily, and sleep soundly until the real daylight arrives - waking in time to wander across the beach and sit on the rocks, watching the sun come up over the sea.

A man in a loin cloth and sandals appears and walks to the water's edge, stripping naked and swimming out towards the rising sun. The dog that had been sleeping outside a tent further up the beach wanders over to say hello. The naked swimmer returns to the beach and stands facing the sun, eyes closed, meditating. His partner arrives and joins him. Two more people come down onto the sand with rugs to do morning yoga.

I take my sleeping mat and walk out to face the sun too. 

Normally I'm distracted while I practice - it's hard not to think about getting finished and the day that is to come. Today is not like that. I'm not counting breaths till the next pose, I'm listening to my body as it awakens. Relaxing into the stretches with each outward breath until I reach my limit, then holding for a while. Waiting. My mind is with my body in the asana today.

After resting a while, I strip too and go for a swim, feeling the warm Mediterranean lapping against my skin, then come out to lie in the sun.

This feels like how life should be.

The previous morning I was in a hurry. I'd arrived in the airport at Palma with the intention of climbing non-stop for 9 days, super-psyched for the Deep Water Soloing. I was rather unprepared - I'd packed in a last-minute scramble and couldn't find my guidebook. I was planning on bivying, but I'd come with hand luggage only so I couldn't bring a knife. I'd left my plate, cup, fork and spoon sitting on the bed in the van.

I'd driven straight across the island, hooked up with Jerome at Cala Barques and got stuck into the climbing. I warmed up on Hercules (6c) with surprising ease and then tried to repeat Metrosexual (7a+), taking a lot of falls on the high crux. Despite my lack of recent sport climbing, I felt in decent form.

I almost changed my mind on bivying when Delphine said they had a spare bed, but I'm glad I didn't. Waking up on the beach I realised I had a lot more to gain from kicking back and getting in tune with myself on this holiday than I would from obsessing about cranking out projects.

I decided to leave my climbing shoes in my bag and sit on the beach watching the day go past.

The guys in the camp made their way down to the beach as the morning progressed and spent the day there - some doing DWS, some having a swim, some having a beer. They had a sea kayak and every so often someone would take it for a paddle along the coast. One girl had a little stall selling earrings to the tourists. They sang a lot. They laughed a lot. They give the impression that life is rather good when you stop taking it seriously.

The guitar player, with a rough but tuneful voice - ideally suited to the reggae beats he favoured - played with boundless enthusiasm. He started in the morning as everyone else was stretching and making coffee. He had a blast in the afternoon while the tourists covered the beach. And round the campfire at night, off he went again. Another guitar joined in sometimes, and a couple of djembe drums, but at the heart of it was always his voice.

The beach swelled with tourists in the afternoon, boats appeared and moored up in the bay. Large catamarans teeming with sight-seers swung past - stopping to take pictures of the caves, before heading to the next attraction.

I sat on the beach. When I got tired I snoozed. When I got hungry I ate. When I got thirsty I drank. When I got hot, I swam. And in between I did nothing more than sit and think.

The boats left. The sun started to disappear over the hill. The sunbathers began to pack up, the beach slowly emptying until all that was left was that group sitting round a guitar.

The light faded out and they too made their way back into the trees.

I lay on my back watching the stars come out. The moon rose casting it's cold light across the beach once more. I climbed into my sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep. I'd spoken to nobody and distracted myself with no books, no games, no internet. I'd spent the day with the company of my own head and felt neither restless nor concerned.

Content. Happy to just be. The perfect day.

Sunrise at Cala Barques

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