The American author, journalist and intellectual-in-waiting Jonathan Franzen once wrote “the first lesson reading teaches you is how to be alone”. I agree fully. But growing up by the sea has the same profound effect. At least on me. Wherever I am in the world I always long to the sea. I need the openness offered, the varying landscape created by hundreds of thousands of years of erosion. Nowhere else can I feel like one with nature as when I’m sat alone by the sea. The power of the North Sea, The English Channel, the Mediterranean seems to be boiling in my blood. I can also feel within me the complete calm the sea can create. When looking out over a completely still sea it is like nothing has happened since the Dawn of Man. As if no one ever tread the Earth or invented the car. Or the complicated banking system for that matter.
This was something I was reminded of when I stopped the car and wandered along a completely silent pebble beach in East Sussex. If you drive between Hastings and Eastbourne, like one does from time to time, try to get off the A269 and find the small B roads that will take you closer to the English Channel. All the Napoleonic Martello towers are interesting along the way as well, yes, but instead of concentrating on them try to get off the road and wander down to the sea.
Hardly anyone knows about these hidden gems that the beaches here are, so, you will probably be alone. Walk over the little ridge which often divides the road and the beach and you will be surprised. If it’s a low tide it’s even better.
Sit down and smell the fresh air that carries with it the promise of freedom and a life without stress. If so for just a second; try to believe in that promise. It will make the rest of your journey so much easier and much more pleasant. That for me is the power of the sea.