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Whilst “Battling Demons but Seeking Angels”, Tim Tanton chats candidly about his recovery from darkness, through recognising that kindness to our planet, to each other and to ourselves, is the only way we can all live in harmony with our one planet and our own minds. Oh, and his plan to package ‘utopia’ to sell around the world… of course in plastic bottles!

A typical north Cornish morning of wind and utter grimness was warmed away by an uplifting, soulful yarn around the fire with Tim Tanton, the North Devonian, long-standing single fin surfer of the South-West, a ‘just one fish’ angler, retired Senior Mental Health Nurse and occupational PTSD fighter. Tim, the founder of Paddle4Relief, a charity established to raise funds for the devastated communities of Sri Lanka following the Tsunami in 2004, founder of Arugam Bay Surf Club and being instrumental in the development of the Surfing Federation Sri Lanka, fully advocates the importance of surf as therapy for troubled communities and individuals.
During our heart-warming cuppa, Tim reflects honestly on how his love and affinity for nature and surfing literally saved his life six years ago following over two decades of front-line mental health work, and a resultant back injury from a violent incident. The injury was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back. This succession of events led to a diagnosis of PTSD six months after, and his subsequent failed suicide attempts. He encourages everyone to follow their true passion, to jump fearlessly into their authentic self, while remembering our impact on our one beautiful world.
His own recovery from darkness, what he referred to as “Battling Demons but Seeking Angels”, was brought about through recognising that gifting kindness; to our planet, our land, our oceans, to each other and ourselves, is the only way that we can all live in harmony; that how we treat our minds and our planet are not separate, but one of the same.

Tim on why being with ‘Mother Nature’ was essential for his own healing

“I did Mental Health Nursing for way too long! But it was the last violent incident which affected me so severely, both physically and mentally. I felt pushed by my GP to go back to work, pushed to heal. This ultimately ended up with me attempting suicide more than once. Pressure doesn’t allow people to heal. The system didn’t work for me either. The pressure created anger in me, but also the strength to find my own path, and that was Mother Nature. I’ve lost way too many good people in the last six years who have sadly taken their own lives. I feel so fortunate to have not been successful, to have turned to solitude, simplicity and nature just in time. I’m a sixties baby [laughs/coughs awkwardly!], so growing up back then allows reflection on how busy and suffocating our lives and streets have become these days. There’s nowhere near our homes for solace. We need to go further afield to even hear the sounds of nature, let alone be immersed in it… But that effort is essential.
It was essential for me to step back from people to allow the time to think without additional noise. For me personally, even music is human noise when I’m in a fragile place. It disables me from thinking clearly. Turn off the noise, listen to the natural sounds. They allow you space to heal. Mother Nature, she almost gives you ideas, gives you inspiration if you listen.” Nature is a preventative, it’s a self-induced therapy. But it is often forgotten at a time when you really need it the most. Get your doses in before the negative stuff happens!”

Tim on letting the leash go on ‘surfing’s control’

When you’re healing, you have to slow down. I have to slow down sometimes to stop surfing control my life. I surf more in a solitude way as I’ve always struggled with the masses in surfing. It’s changed over the decades, people surf for different personal reasons, but we have to be mindful that we don’t impact others in the water. I need to be in solitude. And in my own personal path, living in a state of fight or flight was not conducive to surfing big waves anymore. I need to be truthful to myself and recognise what type of waves and environment is conducive to surf as therapy.

I needed to find waves that were playful. I didn’t have to compete with people, I just had to feel the wave. I had to feel nature… watching porpoises jumping around, rather than being frantic is what understanding nature and yourself is all about. This is what puts a smile on my face. They may not have been the best waves but they gave me the biggest smile. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m in a good place, I’ll head back out in the big stuff and embrace it on an even keel. There’s still a place for an adrenaline rush from time to time
… But there is no room for ego when you are healing”

Tim on recognising our place and impact on our world

I was Mechanical Design Engineer before I was a Senior Mental Health Nurse – designing packaging, things that used cellophane, clingfilm, polystyrene, and then I recognised it was not the way forward. We are not moving fast enough to save our world or our minds. They aren’t separate, they are part of the same. Simplify our lifestyle, slow down. This is our rubbish as this is our world. This is our pollution as this is our world. We are all responsible for recovering and restoring. You see, there are so many cycles in life that interlock. Humans appear to have separated themselves from nature, the planet, our oceans. It’s almost like they treat it like a commodity, a material possession to use, rather than respect, and be at one with. Kindness lost.

We are all part of this world – what we need is the majority not the minority to put into action what
they watch on TV!

’I believe we all need to use this planet for just enough that we need. No more. Know our impact on
our world and our minds…

Catch just one fish”

Check out Tim on his website and social media, or just get in touch with him… he really does love a good yarn!
Instagram: tantonslife_uk, devoncoasttherapy, seanic_scenes, thereturningangler
LinkedIn: Tim Tanton

Image credits: Paddle4Relief, and Carrie Seager

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