For as long as I can remember, I imagined that I would be happiest living at the beach. While I never frequented the ocean as much as I should have during my time in LA, no matter where I am, as soon as I lay eyes on blue water and sense sand through my toes, tension melts and I feel at peace. Swimming in salt water seems to ease my body and my mind better than any massage or therapy session ever could. There was no doubt in my mind, sooner rather than later, I would retire to the beach – my dream home within meters of crashing waves, tiny trails of sand leading to my front door and lingering through my living room.
My time at Ashburnham Estate in the tea country of Sri Lanka made me question that certainty. There, I was surrounded by hills of lush green tea plantations, mountains and fresh water. One of my favorite past times during my stay here was walking down to the 30 meter waterfall and cooling off in the freshwater pool. I loved the feeling of pulsating water pounding on my head and the sound of torrential sheets crashing to the pool below, magnified when I dunked my head under.
Amidst the union of earth and water, my vata was subdued and I found an ease living here that I haven’t felt in a while. For a week I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be the perfect place to hang my hat for a bit and write my book. Long meditations melted into lazy morning breakfasts. From 9:30am to 12pm or so I indulge in toast with lots of butter (Gluten be damned. The local bread was amazing), drink coffee or tea or sometimes both, and either write or converse with other guests about our travels or my lovely hosts, Ollie and Laura, or my friend Max. Here, I am in no rush to respond to emails or even blog. Time seems to be soaked up in experience of the surrounding beauty.
During a few hikes, I also reflected how, in a small way, the environment at Ashburnham was similar to Austin. Albeit there are a lot less people hanging around these parts – the guesthouse is at full capacity with around 15 guests – the immediate access to nature, if I remember correctly, is also a main draw for many in the town I’ve called home for the past two years. Many people land in the ATX, as we like to call it, for its active and outdoorsy lifestyle, despite the heat and humidity – also found here in Sri Lanka. But like LA, I never took advantage of it as much as I could have. The cool dipping waters of Barton Springs and the trails and pools of the Greenbelt. The hikes of the hill country and of course, for the quick escape or walk, Town Lake.
Comparable to many moments I’ve had here in Sri Lanka, I surprised myself when I found myself bragging about how wonderful Austin is to Ollie, Laura and other guests. I unabashedly used ACL as a selling point and am lobbying fiercely for my new friends to head “West” to join the festivities this Fall.
Home is what we make it. Granted, I probably would be slightly displeased living in the middle of the desert or in a landlocked town with nothing but concrete sidewalks and overpasses, but despite its rapidly expanding population, ATX’s natural beauty has not been overrun by cars and metros. Not yet, anyway.
Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of perspective and remembrance. Sometimes we need to leave what we have to appreciate what we’ve got. And not forget it.