When I was 25, I went on holiday with my boyfriend to Cinque Terre, a protected marine reserve on the Italian Riviera. The relationship was not a good one, and the holiday was not a seamless week of intimacy. However, one memory will always stay with me. We were on the beach, arguing about some triviality, and my parting shot was to walk away in a huff and dive into the sea. A couple of minutes later, my mood had changed completely.
Treading water in a clear, azure Mediterranean, craggy cliffs surrounding me, I felt a wonderful sense of wellbeing. As I swam further out and immersed myself in the salty water, this sense of contentment got stronger. By the time I returned to the beach, I couldn’t remember what the argument was about – let alone care who had won.