Find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust
It’s 4:08am and I can’t sleep. I feel restless in a way that’s different to every other night that I’ve been unable to sleep. The BBC weather app tells me that the sun will rise at 4:53am, so I decide to make a flask of coffee and head to the beach to watch it. As I’m walking I try to remember the last time I was out early enough to see the sunrise and I can’t, it’s been a while.
I’m at the beach by 4:17am. It’s cloudy.
I walk west until the beach meets the cliff and walk back again. It’s now 4:49am and I’m sitting on a buoy in the sand, looking out to sea. It’s still cloudy, but those clouds are beginning to glow as the sun starts rising inside them.
A seagull has been circling above my head for the past few minutes. Every other seagull is eating or heading somewhere while making seagull noises. This one is circling tightly around my head, staring directly at me, making not-very-seagull-like noises. I get up and walk to the other end of the beach, towards the sunrise. The seagull flies in front of me, back and forth in arcs, the whole way. Any time I stop and stand still, it goes back to circling.
I start to think about “Guardian Angels”. I remind myself that I don’t believe in any kind of angel, but I decide this seagull is definitely a sign that I’m in the right place at the right time. Because that’s what I do these days, believe and take comfort in “the signs” — otherwise known as noticing any coincidences and deciding not to be massively paranoid or freaked out about them.
A few months ago I was staying on the English coast that’s directly opposite this Welsh one. Every morning a seagull would wake me at sunrise by relentlessly smashing its beak against the glass door in my room until I acknowledged it. The first morning I tried to ignore it, the second morning I tried to scare it away, but it would always start banging on the window again. By the third morning the seagull and I were spending sunrise together on the decking.
I heard the banging of beak on glass, got up to make coffee, then sat on the doorstep watching the sunrise — while the seagull watched me. Once the sun had fully risen and my coffee cup was empty, I went back inside and the seagull flew away. This went on for a week or so until it was time for me to go home. It was a weird relationship, but something about it felt right. I enjoyed being a morning person for once, and for a few weeks after I got home my mornings seemed a little more empty. I tried not to think too much about the seagull, or the fact that it was probably now spending its mornings with someone new.
I just realised that I haven't seen a sunrise since that week with the seagull. I’m not sure if this seagull at the beach today is that seagull — it’s impossible to tell without a glass door between us — or if I just want this seagull to be thatseagull. But here we are, hundreds of miles away from where we were: me watching the sunrise with a coffee, the seagull watching me. Both of us feeling like we belong in this moment and in this place. Both of us feeling right.