And so finally I returned. On a pilgrimage of sorts. To the small Caribbean island nation of Barbados. I wondered whether the sense of belonging that overwhelmed me sixteen years ago, the first time I visited, would again take hold. For years I had carried within my heart incredible memories of my first trip to Barbados, when I was twenty-six and alone in the world. Inexplicably back then it felt like I’d come home.
Midway through May, 2015, I found my way back. To the same little strip of beach on the south coast of the island, at a place called Worthing, in the parish of Christchurch. From my balcony I stood mesmerized by the sparkling Atlantic. Ever-changing shades of turquoise and blue like a colour swatch card made purely of water. Overtaken by a strong magnetic pull to be submerged beneath the warm tropical water; akin to the pull of an infant to the breast. An energy source crucial for survival.
If I listen closely to my heart’s desire, time and again it leads me to the water’s edge. In his landmark book, Blue Mind: the Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, the American marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols, describes the human – water connection as, “A mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.”
There are many other things that bond me to Barbados. For a start we both share a deep love of cricket. And though the West Indies team is not the great cricketing force they once were, cricket is still a popular national pass-time. Historically cricket represents so more than just a sport. As the great Antiguan cricketer Sir Vivian Richards once told me, “…cricket is more like a religion than a sport.” When West Indies teams of the past were unbeatable, the spirits of the entire region lifted. (more…)