On my last trip to Sydney, I did what I always do. I stood still and watched the surfers play.
Midway along the cliff-top walk that runs from Bondi Beach to Bronte, I paused and leaned over the railing. I was a bystander, soaking up rays from the warm winter sun and breathing deeply to fill my lungs with salty sea spray — taking in the reserve that will hold me over until my next visit home.
A couple of young blokes went past me as I stood there, wetsuits zipped and surfboards tucked under their armpits.
Moments later, and without hesitation, they ran into the waves, launching their boards ahead of them and paddling out with smooth, strong determination.
This is the way that a surfer enters the water — as if the pull of the ocean is such that they can’t wait another moment to be at one with it. No matter that it’s freezing nor that the currents are strong, their need to surf propels them into the sea.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood at that spot and watched that scene. The inspiration that comes from seeing everyday people act in a way that fills their soul with joy is truly hypnotic.
So I was surprised that this was the first time I felt moved to ask the question — could it be like that for all of us?
I’m not talking about surfing (and if you saw the video footage from my last surf lesson you’d understand why). But of approaching movement with gratitude, and choosing a form of physical activity that inspires energy, rather than depleting it.
That might mean changing what you do for fitness, and swapping closed-in gym classes for nature hikes, dancing in the garden or doing yoga by the sea….
Or it may require that you acknowledge that your body is the vessel that allows you to experience life, and if you want to have great adventures, you need to stay in great shape.
Most importantly, what I’m suggesting is an attitude shift. Consider, if you will, the idea that movement can be enjoyed for the sake of movement, and not in order to achieve any long-term results.
For me, “exercise highs” include:
- The inspired thought that pops into my mind during a cool evening walk
- The feeling of freedom (and silence!) that comes with floating in the pool
- The jokes that bounce across the court when you play doubles tennis with your best friend
- The ease of conversation and connection between two people as their feet purposefully move in the same direction
This week my husband shared with me a quotation from his childhood: Attitude is altitude.
So I have to ask, what is your attitude to exercise? Is it one that lets you ride the waves of physical freedom? Does it bring you joy? If not, what could you do to change that?
I hope you’ll let me know.