Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mother Nature's Therapy Session

Isn't this amazing. Two days ago I was searching the Internet for more information on SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to unravel the mysterious connection between the change in weather and my mood swings. For a couple of days now it has been raining on and off, and although this is basically what is to be expected for the Western Cape this time of the year, the thought of having to survive another three months of winter is pulling me down into the deepests dephts of depression. I'm trying to establish if it is the actual weather that works in on my general well-being, or if its secondary effect might be responsible. Could it be the fact that bad weather just means no outdoor activities and that this leads to a dull unexciting life which silently kills me? I think I might have to do more research on SAD because my earlier self-diagnosis of possible manic depression didn't go down well with my wife and friends. They think I'm crazy, whatever they mean by that. Seasonal Affective Disorder might be closer to the truth I think.

I once read that a person's life is over when the only reason he or she gets up in the morning is to have a wee. I have asked myself that question many times. Why do I get up in the morning? I guess in my case the answer changes along with the changes in weather conditions. When the weather is cold and wet like it has been for the last couple of days then it was definitely just to go wee. Of course I need to work as well to support my family and get up because of that, so maybe I should rephrase that question and ask what makes me feel alive instead of what's making me get up. I don't think it is sunny weather per se, but the ability to spend time outdoors would probably be closer to the right answer. Cape Town has miserable weather this time of the year, but fortunately when it's not raining then the sunny windless days are just amazing. Then I feel fine. Perfect outdoor weather for most outdoor activities, except kitesurfing of course. In winter most kitesurfers either migrate to the northern hemisphere or they pack away their kiting gear and take out whatever else they prefer to do in either rainy or windless weather. Today however Mother Nature was very kind to us. She threw in a free therapy session when everybody was needing it but no-one was expecting it. And when Mother Nature gives you a bonus session you better make good use of it.

It was about 4:30 when I reached Kite Beach this afternoon. I packed in both kites just in case, but as expected my smaller Nomad 7 was the obvious choice. There were already a few guys in the water, so I wasted no time in getting the  kite rigged up and getting into my wetsuit. It was a cloudless day, except for the familiar cloud formation on top of Table Mountain which is nature's reliable indicator that the southeastern is blowing. The wind was chilly, but the water temperature was surprizingly warm. It is a fact that the water on the Atlantic side is usually warmer in winter than in summer. This is caused by upwelling, but that if for your geography teacher to explain. The sea was a bit choppy, but nothing serious. At 20 knots I knew that I would be touching the water only here and there. I don't know when last I actually were in the water, but kitesurfing is like riding bicycle. For some reason you can get on and ride again no matter when last you've been on a bicycle. I was yet again very pleased with myself for adding the Nomad to my toy collection a few months earlier. If I didn't have a smaller kite today, I probably would've been typing my suicide note right.

It was only after my kite session while taking some pictures on the beach when I realized that my spirits are back where it was a few months ago when I couldn't find enough time to do everything I love doing. And the best part of it is the fact that it was still windy and cold outside, definitely not the summer weather I believed to be the main ingredient for a raised spirit. I thought about my SAD concerns and realized that the weather might not be the activator of my mood swings after all, but rather the inability to do the things I love. The things that keep me alive is not weather driven, it's adrenalin driven. When the constant wind was dragging me down a few years ago I took up kite surfing and now I actually wait for the wind to blow. I might want to look into something that can be done when it is cold and wet outside. Unfortunately it does not get cold enough in this beautiful country of ours to take up snowboarding. I am sure that would've rid me of the winter blues as well. At least tonight I know that I can feel good when it's winter too, I just need something exciting to do to give me that much needed lift.  Mother Nature did not only provide me with a reason to feel good tonight, she also provided me with an answer to my SAD question. Maybe my life is not so "SAD" after all.

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