When life gives you a little kick
My perspective may appear a little 'rose tinted' to you - especially in the light of what's happening in the world at this time - and this might be a bit much for some readers. But it's not because everything's running smoothly in my life. Infact, life has been as tough as old boots just recently. It was metaphored in a watery encounter I had in Portugal earlier this year (life, I find, speaks to us powerfully in symbols).I was staying at a friend's place out there, and on this particular day a few of us had decided to swim out to sea. The waves were high and wild and we were being carried up perhaps 20 metres above the sea floor and down again, as if on the back of some giant creature. Sometimes we would swim in, catch one of the giant waves, and ride it down towards the sand. We played like this, exhilarated, for some time, not wanting to come out.It was when we decided to come out of the sea, however, that the fun began. The sea floor fell away quite sharply at one point just before the waves reached the shore. I would do what I could to climb out of the waves but, for whatever reason, each time I made some headway, one would come, knock me over and pull me underwater, often swallowing a mouthful of seawater as I went. It was hugely entertaining for a while (I've always had an overdeveloped sense of humour) - and particularly for the people that were sitting or lying on the beach. Part of this was because I was wearing an ill-fitting bikini and every time a wave threatened to knock me off my feet, the force of the water would rip one or the other half of it - or both - away from my body. I had to hold fast to both top and bottom.I provided the offshore entertainment for quite some time, roaring with laughter until the next wave came and I got a mouthful of seawater. Then, something in me said 'wake up!' A friend of mine had been standing firmly by my side and reached out a hand to me every time a wave threatened to knock me off my feet. But though he was strong, it wasn't enough to get me out of the water and safely on the beach. 'Forget your bikini!' he said - 'Just get out!', as another wave took me under and I swallowed another mouthful.And just at that moment, a man appeared out of nowhere, a knight in shining armour, took my left hand, and uttered in a strong German accent, 'can I help you?' and, together, the two escorted me up the beach. I collapsed and slept, face down, on my towel, for half an hour or so, salt water pouring out of my ears and nose, the elastic in my shellshocked swimsuit sagging.There comes a point, when life kicks you about a bit, that you somehow get the message. Somehow somewhere it's whispering - or shouting - 'wake up!' Of course, on a larger scale, we're getting a lot of wake-up calls at the moment, from the dramatic trials of the Euro to the International Energy Agency's urgent calls to action on the environment. And, as I see it, every time we get a knock of some sort - or something doesn't seem 'quite right' - whether on a global or a personal level - it's a good idea to stop and ask, 'OK, so what is life trying to say to me here?' 'What can I learn in this situation?' 'What do I need to be doing differently?' Because there's always something. And there's always, in my experience, an opportunity being presented to see things in a different light.