July 2005  | This Issue

Martin Challis

Winter Solstice Down Under

 nor-westerly licks the flat blue ebbing sea. Sun rise was half an hour ago. The air is chill and fresh, it's the day after the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. From where I sit on the porch of our rented holiday house I can see 200 degrees of ocean, coastline and point.

This break in the year – an Australian winter – is respite from computers, telephones and deadlines, well almost. This article is being pencilled in a notebook and later will be transcribed on computer at the local internet café – almost a clean getaway.

Wether by the sea, on the sea, or in it, the expanse of water that laps this shore is a mass of life and source of deep fascination, whatever its mood. Just yesterday a pod of humpback whales cruised by, not 400 metres from the shore. Perhaps they came close by to shelter calves or gain relief from the southern current. Dolphins are a daily occurrence – chasing bait fish into shallow water, leaping and surfing the waves. Terns and gulls abound. Great white water birds dive bomb with aero-nautical precision as they feed on fish fleeing other fish.

To contemplate an ocean and all its forms can be for me a contemplation of the soul. Can one truly gaze upon the wonders of nature and not ask deeper questions? Or in the least, be still and quiet if not for a while.

The purpose of a holiday or vacation is no doubt to recharge, unwind and refresh. But deeper, can it be to reconsider purpose? Is it to reawaken what matters? The ocean calms my thoughts. In the movement of its currents, tides and waves there is stillness, depth and timelessness. At its edges I touch its feet as it touches mine – a mutual worship.

Spending time with this clarity, this clear cold salty giver of life reassures my stillness. Perhaps I am closer to an understanding of what a vacation can be; grateful that I live and work in a place where I am able to do this. I think of friends across the water, who may at this time be gazing at their own horizon; knowing that in some way we are all connected.

For centuries humankind has benefited from the gifts of oceans. Today its gift to me is peace and quiet consideration. A re-alignment of purpose found in pause.

And what do you know I was able to pen a short article, be it somewhat off the theme of art and artistry. But perhaps in some way it is deeply connected to the artist. A reminder of the purpose and power of contemplation; and if needed, a justification for rest.


©2005 Martin Challis
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Martin Challis is an actor and director
in Australia. He recently  commenced
a coursework Doctorate in Creative Industries
developing projects such as The Raw Theatre
and Training Company. He's also the director of
the Studio For Actors and Ensemble Works.

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