“Was that your first swim of the season?” commented a friend from the UK who saw me jumping from a boat in Pile as part of a promo video for Dubrovnik, a couple of weeks ago. It was true. And probably if I hadn’t filmed that video I still wouldn’t have tasted the Adriatic this year.
I wasn’t always such a shy swimmer. But in recent years the appeal has certainly worn thin. It could be the theory of “it’s there so I have plenty of time to go.” The same as when I lived in London and hadn’t visited many of the main tourist attractions. You see them every day and think “one day, one day.” But that one day doesn’t come.
Even though I was born on an island the sea hasn’t really held some great appeal. Of course I swam as a child, even though the sea temperatures were ideal for penguins, but it seems the older I get the less attractive it is. I even recently spent four days on Lastovo and not even the incredibly translucent sea could tempt me in.
From the front window of my house I can watch the sea all day and from the back window the mountains. I seem to spend more time fascinated by the view from the back window than the front.
However, the first swim, or rather leap from a boat, wasn’t the last. I waited until the sea reached a bath-like 26 degrees and eased myself in. Slowly, and like a pensioner. It was so warm I felt like a potato boiling before being mashed. Did I enjoy it? Of course I did. Will I be rushing to the beach every day, of course I won’t. Last year I dipped into the Adriatic three times and I’m well on course to beat that record this year…just.
It could well be that one of the factors I am not in the sea is that the idea of sunbathing is horrific. The mind-numbing monotony of heating up and then taking a dip, heating up and then taking a dip, heating up and then taking a dip. Kill me now! I would rather have root canal at the dentist than lay in the sun slowly burning my skin. Layered in oil, like a lamb rotating on the spit, slowly cooking seems like a completely pointless experience. Lying in the sun has to be the most boring, non-activity ever.
It could also be a male thing. Scan any beach and you’ll probably see more females than males. Culturally, being tanned is a beauty standard that is desirable. It's stupid, and it is improving, but it's so entrenched in society that it's going to take a long time to change.
Maybe I have some Japanese blood in me. Their thinking that the whiter you are the higher class you are (because people with suntans work in the fields) is parallel to mine. Whilst friends and family fry on the beach I am normally found hidden like a vampire under the biggest palm I can find.
I’m not really avoiding the sun because I don’t want skin cancer (although obviously I’d like to avoid it) or that I don’t want to look like a prune in later life after years of abusing my skin, rather it is just a colossal waste of time. Instead of reading a book on the beach try writing one.
This is the active/passive argument I have with myself all the time, and normally the active side wins. Life is just too short to be passive, and you only get one chance. Instead of reading or watching or hearing about how fun/entertaining/worthwhile something is go out and try it for yourself. Lizards and snakes have a good excuse to lounge in the sun, they need the Vitamin D to stay alive, we on the other hand don’t.
Tourist who fly half way around the world to simply collapse in the sun are in a whole new category of passivity. “Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing,” once said the American businessman Warren Buffet.