Have you ever been in a really good mood, enjoying your own space, and then it all comes crashing down when someone puts their views or beliefs onto you when you weren’t even asking for their opinion or thoughts?
That’s what happened to me today. I decided to go to the beach this afternoon and enjoy some quality Beck time while I had the chance, before a busy weekend ahead of me. The sun was shining, the air was still; a perfect summer’s beach day in Melbourne. So I head to my favourite spot. I put on my bikinis and lather on the sunscreen in the large change rooms, as I hate rubbing sunscreen and sand onto my skin.
A woman walks in and decides to get changed, but right next to me. I feel her presence and using my peripheral vision, wonder whether she is going to start talking to me. The two of us stand in a quiet change room: it can get a bit awkward and I ponder whether to say hello. Sometimes I am up for a chat with strangers. Just the other week I met a woman in the doctor’s waiting surgery and heard about her life, her daughter’s life, her shoulder injuries and her trips to Tassie. I was very happy to chat and laugh and get to know this woman. But today I was in no mood for conversation and was enjoying my own silence.
I concentrate on what I am doing very intently, hoping she picks up the vibes I am sending…Do not talk to me.
I was wrong! You know if you go to the health food store, you can get sunscreen that is about the same price, well maybe a little more expensive than what you’re using, but it doesn’t have all the chemicals in it?
I look across at her, with a half smile. Oh, okay really? Thanks. I didn’t ask for your advice. I’m hoping my short response will shut her up. Just let me put on my sunscreen.
But no. The stuff you are putting on your body is terrible. It has so many chemicals in it. It is not good for you or for the ocean.
I pretend to be interested and while holding the sunscreen in one hand, I half-heartedly inspect the back of the bottle, slathering on more with my other hand. I shrug and continue. I just want her to stop talking. I want to get out of there. I rub it in, faster this time.
She goes on, You know, people put this on their skin, and then they go into the ocean. Hundreds and hundreds of people are going swimming everyday and are polluting the sea and all the fish.
I hear her voice prattle on, but I have tuned out. I want to say to her, Well this has been working for me just fine, so I’ll keep using it. But that sounds ignorant; maybe it is polluting the ocean, and I haven’t really thought about that. My bad experiences with being preached at start to surface and my inner wall begins to rise. All I wanted was to come to the beach, put on my sunscreen, have a paddle and read my book.
I grew up with a family who used cooking oil to roast their bodies in the summer. Baby oil, coconut oil, any oil really. As long as their skin turned golden brown. Sunscreen was not heard of. My family still refuse to wear it. But when I was 12, mum got melanoma in her back and that was a wake up call for me. If she didn’t go to the doctor to check out the mole, she would have died within 2 years. So I was really proud of myself for actually wearing sunscreen, and now this woman has me thinking about the slippery sunscreen seeping into the ocean, affecting the sea creatures.
I want to say, Well at least I am looking after myself and doing the right thing. And then I think, How selfish of me, to think of me and not the fish. It was too much! I have to get out of there.
So I shut up as she talks at me. I wait for a pause and scurry out. I decide to continue my sunscreen application on the beach. Sand and all!
And until I do a bit of research, I will continue to slip, slop, slap!