Despite being an early-bird 5:45am starts are never easy, especially in winter.
Especially when you are about to go to the beach with it’s ocean breeze and especially when you are wearing thongs and plan to take a dip or surf.
But it was Friday at Bondi Beach. And Friday’s mean one thing and one thing only. Fluro.
“Fluro Friday” to be exact, founded and run weekly by the OneWave community. As they so perfectly describe it, for “the surfers, sufferers and survivors, we are a non-profit surf community tackling mental health issues with a simple recipe…saltwater therapy”.
This community has multiplied tens of times over with beaches across the world holding their own versions weekly that continue to thrive.
I will not spoil the inspiring story behind the movement, so I encourage you to check out their page to find out more here (after this blog!).
Back to the icy morning. Just before 6:30am, Jason (from the Mr. Perfect team) and I were met by two friendly faces we knew, Grant Trebilco and Ben Cryan, complete with luminous beanies, suit jackets and leggings. Just minutes later we were joined by 20 plus others, all ages, backgrounds and a healthy mix of men and women. It was impossible to miss them.
A few introductions later we formed a circle and parked ourselves on the sand. Sam Schumacher (co-Founder) began proceedings and in his natural soothing voice and delivery, welcomed everyone. He talked off-script with ease, leading to the group chipping in their tips as to how they manage to get themselves out of bed in the morning, especially in this chill. And no doubt especially with some facing the added and sometimes insurmountable wall of mental illness.
Head low and listening (hiding) as I usually do, moments later I was put on the spot to tell the group about Mr. Perfect. Thankfully no one seemed disinterested. Clearly the main theme of both our groups is community and connection. Sam pointed out, “Some of us do our talking and healing over surf, some over the Australian tradition of a good barbie”.
To close the circle’s proceedings a senior “mature” male member of the group delivered an ode to the group, essentially a verse about “promises”. You could not hear a pin drop, except for the backing track of the waves. There is surely no more therapeutic sound in the life’s playlist.
As Jason and a handful of guys (including one sporting an impressive cape) headed out bravely to surf what looked like my worst nightmare (ask my wife my "Bondi Rescue" story), the rest of the group took a yoga class looking directly out to the North and the sun rising. With a delicate lower back injury, I took the time to peel away and gaze out to the horizon, breathing as slowly as I could and achieving a calm I had not felt in an age.
I thought back to the verse I had heard 10 minutes ago and promised that I would attempt the almost impossible for me, be present and enjoy that moment, even for 30 seconds. And be thankful for people and communities like these.