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Searching for walruses – view of Beaumaris Beach from the Lfie Saving Club
I was panting like a dog in a hot car. My heart was thumping so fast, you could’ve wired me up to the grid and I’d have lit up half the town for the night. Huffing and puffing like I was actually giving birth to the New Year myself. 2014 was going to be my baby alright. There might be pain, there might be some crying, why not some hyperventilating to add to the drama of this monumental event.
There were a few couples sitting on the table in the park by the shore, and a mob of teenagers huddled together in their swaying, drunken herd, everyone watching the curvature of the bay, its lights twinkling in anticipation of the year to come. A few premature bursts of fireworks went off like small contractions, just desperate to finally bring in the New Year.
It is about 11.58pm and I’d wondered if maybe I should have waited another minute before I started dashing off into the night like an idiot. As I ran, the thought went through my mind that I run slower than an elephant. I’m not really built for this, in fact most animals would have mauled me to death if I were running for my life. Then it occurred to me that even a Walrus, who actually doesn’t even have legs, he too would probably be able to out run me, but I might have a chance against a really fat pregnant walrus. With that thought in my mind, I raced along and finally, the cheers went up and the towns dotted around the bay exploded in light and magic. It was 2014 and I had run like a pregnant walrus, ran as hard as I could, right into the New Year.
As I stared into the night sky around the bay, I felt really different to most New Years’ Eve’s. Most years, I felt sad and nostalgic. This night usually reminded me of uncertainty, confusion and a yearning for happier times. It highlighted that another year had come and gone and I had remained standing so very still. Nothing had really been achieved, my life mean nothing, I was alone. Some years I would prefer to go to bed early so as to not have to deal with the reminder that yet another year had ticked on by and I remained the same. That nothing had changed for me. I was the human statue. But not anymore, I had a plan. I’m on fire and 2014 is a buffet of opportunity and I’m a very hungry fat kid.
This morning, I woke up and I still felt buzzed about this New Year. It was warmish, but overcast and threatening to rain. It was eerily quiet and dark even by 11am, as if the whole world was recovering from the birth of 2014 and had kept oh so quiet and tucked up in sleep.
Not me though, this was annoying. I felt at odds with the world. Today was special, I was excited! I wanted to do something extraordinary! Given it was warmish, I thought, ‘I am going to go to the beach and swim in the bay!’ It would be symbolic and wash away the past and bring in the new. Besides, I’d never done that before. Never had I gone swimming in the sea on January 1st. I liked this idea, I had two new rituals. Two remarkable acts to herald the birth of this New Year. I would now always run into the New Year and I would wash away my past mistakes and worries in the sea.
As I finished a few emails and got organised for the day, I noticed the temperature had dropped. The weather had gone from ‘do not disturb’ and sleep-like to a beast slowly turning and waking. Maybe this was not such a great idea.
By the time I was ready to leave my house, I pondered whether, considering I was about to walk to the beach and dunk myself in the bay and get absolutely soaked, should I really bother taking an umbrella? I was only going to get wet anyway….
I had reached the beach and I was soaking wet even with the umbrella. The rain was torrential. The beach, desolate. The water, still as the chest of a corpse. A desert of blue glass. It wasn’t particularly cold or even windy. Just extremely wet.
A desert of blue glass – photo doesn’t show the torrential rain…
As I marched the 50 metres from the steps to the water’s edge, I told myself, ‘just don’t stop – whatever you do, don’t stop and think about this buddy. You are going to walk up, put your stuff down under your umbrella, strip off and dive into the water.’
‘Standing still’ I had recently learnt meant not achieving anything. If I stopped to think about this I would procrastinate and come up with some Aristotle-like theory on why I should abandon this stupid Idea and get the hell home before I caught a cold. ‘Standing still’ was dangerous and destined to lead to backing down and not having achieved anything.
I’m a very shy person when it comes to being semi-naked or such in public but here I was, now knee deep in water, in my undies and then I dived in. My head went under and suddenly, before I knew what had happened, I was bathing in the bay on New Year ’s Day, in the pouring rain all by myself.
It was surprising. It was no colder in the sea than in the rain. I paddled around in my blue glass desert all on my own with rain bucketing down on me. I felt electric, alive and crazy. This was outrageous! People would think I’m mad! Then, I knew in my heart with a profound sense of achievement, that this was what it was meant to be. This is what ‘extraordinary’ feels like. I’d accomplished my first extraordinary feat for the year.
It’s ok my friend, you are extraordinary…
As I clambered out of the water, far off down the beach I noticed some lifeguards sheltering under the club’s rooms. They probably had their binoculars out, straining to see through the torrential rain, far down the beach and wondering, had a pregnant walrus just come out of the water and up onto the beach? I didn’t care. I was elated. I felt like I’d cracked a code. It was the first day of the New Year and I had ‘ran’ into it, I didn’t stand still, I wouldn’t stand still. I ran like a fat pregnant walrus and I swam like one too and I knew, this year was going to be extraordinary.