Well, here I am again. Spent the last few weeks driving around Crete, looking at different areas to live in. The search ended abruptly, though, when I saw this:
That’s the view from the balcony of what is now my apartment. I’ve been staring at it more or less continuously for the last few days. It changes all the time, as the sun moves across the sky, as the wind changes direction, and as boats go to and fro.
The interesting thing is that we saw some other wonderful places too. One was in a peaceful location in the middle of an olive grove, another was in a beautifully renovated traditional village house. But when I saw that view, it was as if the others didn’t exist.
Since we moved in, I’ve been enjoying an amazing sense of peace. I have lots to do – the apartment search was costly, our funds are running low, and I need to start writing some freelance articles and bringing in money. But still, I feel so much calmer and less hurried than I did in London.
It reminds me of other times in my life when I’ve drawn solace from water. When I was a young corporate banker engulfed in self-hatred, I used to walk out onto London Bridge and stare at the Thames going by beneath me. Later, in New York, I performed a similar trick, this time looking down at the East River from the 18th floor of the Wall Street office building I was working in. And one of my favourite recent memories is of swimming in Barbados at sunset – if I am angry or stressed, all I have to do is close my eyes and recall that feeling, and I instantly calm down.
It’s strange, because I grew up in south-east London, far away from rivers or oceans. But still, some of my favourite childhood memories are of playing in shallow streams on holidays to Wales or Yorkshire, trying to build dams and watching the water find its own way through. At the seaside, even though the salt water stung my eczema-ravaged knees, I loved watching the waves roll in and out, in and out.
I don’t think I’m alone in being calmed by water, am I? It seems to appeal to something in us, maybe some distant memory, or a desire for the eternal. Perhaps it just reminds us how small most of our day-to-day worries are. So what if my credit card bill is high? I’ve got food in the fridge, and enough cash to pay next month’s rent, and a beautiful view to gaze at. Things will work out. And whether they do or they don’t, the water will keep flowing by as it has for millennia, and as it will do for millennia more after I and all the things I consider important have ceased to exist.