Specks of sand glimmer through the movement of the ocean. Gracefully intertwining with each wave, having a pronounced presence at the peak of each water formation. Succumbing to elements I’m immersed in the underwater realm, cleansed with salt water and consumed by the cold embrace. 

As I emerge, I look around and see an array of people around me – avid surfers, couples floating together, solo venturers and friends loudly voicing their stages of adjustment to the cold water. Directly in front of me is a child and their father, dressed in a fitted wetsuit. I hear the man announcing each wave and directions on whether to go under or over.

Some of my most favourite childhood memories are at the beach. Thirroul, Austimer and Bulli are beaches I frequented when I was young. I never thought much of Bondi and only ever swam here due to convenience and proximity. Yes, you’re not alone, I hear the reverberating sound of privilege and lack of gratitude as I typed it out. But preferences are preferences. 

After living in Bondi for a year I couldn’t help but see the gravitational pull and charm. I don’t think my connection necessarily stems from recognising the global ‘iconic’ status, but more so from watching how this place brings people together. The sense of community it fosters, the blissful moments experienced in and by the ocean; families, friends, lovers, strangers and loners come to congregate, adventure or mindlessly roam.
I seem to have a lot of pensive and introspective thoughts when I’m swimming, which is probably why I find it so cathartic and calming. I was looking through old notes I’d taken from where I was at in January 2021:

Dissipating into the abyss, thankfully thoughts bear no physical weight as my mind races, consumed by the ‘what if’s’ I’m still able to maintain buoyancy to stare into the sky a little longer as if the clouds are going to transform into words for answers.

The dichotomy of what is a seemingly graceful, carefree act; a woman floating aimlessly on their back, gazing up at the expansive canvas of moody pastels. When on the inside looking outwards is an incredibly confused woman trapped inside her mind trying to ease the pace of her inner monologue with the elements of the ocean.

Perspective, huh – what an interesting thing.DEEP. I could also now delve into some sort of symbolic spiel about the depth of the ocean and how that resonates with the above, but I’ll leave it there. 

As an adult, or a tax and rent paying citizen disguised as one at the very least, I often find myself trying to understand a situation or “figure things out”, as opposed to being present in the moment. I don’t like to be caught off guard so I use my solitude as time to reflect and if necessary, prepare. 

I’ve always had an active mind, but trips to the beach as a child were different. My biggest concern was around why is the line to the hot chip shop so extensive and why did I have to wait what felt like an eternity after eating to be allowed to swim.

Besides that, I’d treat my beach days like the fun filled adventures they were intended to be, diving in head first metaphorically and literally in the rockpools adjacent to the ocean. I’d prance through the water carelessly and pretend the sand was snow and form semi solid balls to throw at my sister, which was soon followed by regret as she was older and had a temper shorter than my abysmal eyelashes. 

As a kid, I saw the sea as an unwavering, unchanging mystical body of water that would always be here for me to enjoy. Human engineered water parks may come and go, but this, this ocean – she’s here for life.
Well, so I naively thought. In August the IPCC 2021 Climate Change Report was released and after attempting to read through the 40 page policy maker summary, then later opting to read the even further distilled versions highlighting the key facts and statistics, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, followed by neglected prior acknowledgement and responsibility. 

To be incredibly clear and transparent, I am by no means at present a solution driver nor do I feel as if I am working to the best of my ability to enact long standing positive change. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings and know that there are only more to be discovered. I am grateful for the people, resources and platforms surrounding me, that act as my step up ladder into more conscious and deliberate behaviours. 

This is by no means a preach session, if I’m honest, I am (me, as in the person who has worked in property development for 8 years) writing this in my car out front of the beach which is 2.9km from my home, sipping my coffee from a takeaway cup as I failed to bring my keep cup and all whilst sitting here in my bikini and bike shorts from Cotton On, a leader in the fast fashion industry.

But the older I get and every time I’m at the beach and watch the careless sensibility of the children there, the more I believe they should be able to hold on to that feeling for as long as possible. The weight of climate change and the immediate action that needs to be taken to preserve their future shouldn’t be felt by them, but carried by us.

I don’t know what the full extent of my journey looks like just yet and I’m almost certain that the more I learn, the more my “to-do” list will grow and expand with items that contribute in some way, shape or form. I’m also acutely aware that to see monumental change and a shift in our future the change needs to be enforced by the government to target the biggest contributors i.e corporations. 

For now, these are just some things that I have thought of recently to attend to and educate myself on to make better, informed decisions:

  • Compare providers for electricity and gas- I know there’s comparison sites out there to highlight renewable energy etc. so this one is very much an effort thing.
  • Consolidate all my supers and research the options out there, in an ideal world I’d invest my money into a Superannuation fund that’s ethical. 
  • Research the practises of my bank and if there is a better option – I’m not one to add more admin for the fun of it and to be honest, the UX of the CBA app is excellent and that alone would encourage me to stay.
  • Understand the structure and inner workings of Cryptocurrency investments – Just as a whole I should have a better understanding of where I’ve filtered off some money. But Investments = perpetuating the cause, so I perhaps should have done the legwork of researching just what I’m supporting – yikes. 
  • Actively reduce purchasing any new clothes, or when purchasing focus on product quality and longevity / op shopping and avoid fast fashion brands – this one is kind of a no brainer, as someone who is in their late 20’s I could probably go without the 2 for $40 crop top special at Glassons for various reasons. 
  • Consciously purchase homewares, stationery, anything really  – same as above, Kmart baby girl I love you and I’m not ready to leave you but mass production is mass production and landfill is landfill. 

To summarise, this is my little to-do list, knowing me it will take me a while to get through and to get it all to a palatable state, because I don’t foresee myself ever getting it all right. I’m mindful even recognising the above and my “next steps”, is a form of privilege.

My privilege is knowing resources to use to compare costs and ethical values, my privilege is being able to choose where I shop without detrimental repercussions on my life financially, my privilege is simply the fact I have an apartment, utilities, ability to purchase items and a bank account. 

From my perspective privilege equates to responsibility, whether you view this as the same is your journey. Sometimes I’d prefer to relinquish my responsibilities and revert to a time where my decisions were made for me and attempts were made to shelter me from the realities of the world.
My mum had a very loving and unusual way of trying to shelter me during our day trips to the beach. She was very prescriptive with her swimming instructions and would carefully hawk my movements. The moment she saw me about to walk towards the water, she quickly announced an array of instructions, “don’t go out too far”, “stay in between the flags”, “actually, don’t go in above your knees”, I could barely ever hear the last sentence in her panic speech as I moseyed ahead. 

Even as an adult and living on the coast in Bondi for a year, my mother would always message me saying, “enjoy the beach Bear! Just don’t go in the water”. I always found that incredibly amusing, I’m quite obviously going to go in. But as I think of this in context of the future that awaits the next generation, a warning message from an overprotective mum is better than the warning messages we’re currently receiving from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Skye Tito

Author Skye Tito

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