Now that I am a couple of days past my first experience with surfing, there are a few thoughts that keep rising up within me. It turns out riding the waves did teach me a lot about life, but not in the ways I had expected.
I never had a transcendent moment where I felt One With the Ocean as I had hoped, but I did gain a lot of respect for people who have committed themselves to be wave riders. There is a reason surfers are all ripped and buff my friends. Surfing is HARD WORK.
Here are Three Lessons this hard work taught me.
The hardest part is getting past the wave breaks.
Going in I thought my main struggle in surfing would be standing up on the board without falling. It turns out the hardest part was getting myself and my board out past the place where the waves were crashing in. It took a large amount of will and strength to move myself past the force of the waves that were pushing me back to the shore. But once I got past this place of resistance, things leveled out and it got much easier to move into the place I needed to be to catch a wave.
Start with the small waves.
Since we were total newbies to surfing, we purchased a lesson from Jack’s Surf Lessons on Myrtle Beach, SC. One of the great gifts the instructors gave us was helping us pick the right wave. After a while I figured out that this meant they were picking the small waves. “After a while” meaning I sorted this info out after I tried to take a big wave on my own and enjoyed my fastest wipeout of the day. When I confessed my mistake to our instructor, he laughed and said, “Yeah you have to be quick to take the big waves. That takes practice.”
Sometimes when a big wave comes it is easier to go under than over.
This is another tip I picked up from the instructors. When we were bobbing on our boards and waiting for the right ride, if a big wave came through the instructors would just grab our board and duck under the water. When I tried this I couldn’t believe how brilliant it was. A simple holding of my breath and ducking down prevented me from fighting the wall of water that was about to slap me right in the face. Counterintuitive? Yes. Surprisingly effective? Oh Yeah. **** If you are like me, dealing with forces of resistance, struggling with impatience to get to the big waves, and trying to escape the scary waves bearing down on you are not just problems you face in the ocean. They are an everyday part of life.
As I go back into my routine I am taking these lessons with me.
When I face that wave break of resistance as I sit down to write or try something outside of my comfort zone, I am going to remember to just push through. If I can just get past the initial force of the waves trying to push me back to the safe shore, it will all get much easier.
And when I do press on with that new adventure, I will remember to start with the small waves. I will not let pride or impatience push me to take on more than I am ready for. Once I get the warm up waves mastered, then I can move on to bigger and better things.
But most of all I am going to remember to dive into the scary walls of water bearing down on me instead of trying to avoid them. When fear tells me to fight or run from an unavoidable struggle, I will not listen.
For in reality, fear like oncoming waves must be faced.
Often if we take a big breath and plunge right in to the wall of fear, it will go much better than futilely trying to avoid it.
I feel like I could write about surfing for a week, but for now I will stop and re-watch Blue Crush. Stay tuned for thoughts on finally catching a wave and how to survive a wipeout!