That day we went for a swim, it was hot and oppressively humid, but the North Sea always has a cold bite, even on the hottest days of summer. Totally immersion is the only way, slowly tiptoeing is like torture. The isolated beach at Bradwell-on-Sea, has for a long time, had a strange pull, especially in times of darkness. Sat on the mouth of the Blackwater estuary, this hinterland has been home too many spiritual aspirants since the early days of Christianity in Britain.
Three weeks prior to our swim in the Blackwater, my close friend and my compadre’s Uncle, had taken his own life. In the lead up to this tragic event Richard had been staying with me after returning from Thailand of where he had spent most of the past fifteen years. Those six weeks where quite indescribable, the mental torment that he suffered I would wish on no one, he spoke openly about suicide and his chosen method, no words could seem to console him or efforts to guide him towards channels where he may receive some form of rest bite from his troubles, but all attempts where refused or met with silence, and even though his openness was honest, it still had no bearing on the immense impact his death would have.
We have all felt the sense of loss, a childhood toy, a first love, a parent, or a great friend, we share deep connections to one another, in this a sense of shared humanity is formed. The deeper and closer these bonds are, or attachments, the more distinguished the marks that remain when these bonds are untied. Some are the splash of colour of fond memories, a sweet melody of brief encounters, or taint’s concealed deep within the folds of our subconscious.
These connections are like layers that are created by our interwoven stories, building complex identities that science so far has not come close to understanding. But what are these layers? How dependant are they to our sense of self? What remains when they are stripped away, when we are brought back to a pure and naked awareness stripped clean, even for just a short time, of the attachment to a separate sense of self, when all senses are immersed in the cold waters of the North Sea, what remains?