Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On Surfing and Falling Hard

I very recently took up surfing. It's hard to call what I do now surfing exactly, but I'm learning and working up to a legitimate ride. Anyway, I'm hooked, and yesterday I was thinking a lot about why I've fallen for it so hard.

Having an intimate relationship with the ocean makes me feel powerful. And it's not just about being in the water, but being a part of the culture. It's as much about carrying my board and my gear through the forest path to a cold ocean with massive rocks lining the shore as it is sitting on the outside, straddling my board and riding over the waves, watching as they roll up underneath me. But the other reason I love it, is because it plays with my hold on control. Once I turn around to position myself to take a wave, I get to release that control. Sure, I can learn to balance and position myself on the board, but when that wave comes crashing down on me, knocking me off, all I can do is squeeze my eyes shut, hold my breath, cover my head and roll around in the white water until the wave is done with me and spits me out. That moment under water, in the swirl and chaos of the wave, is scary, but beautifully and completely out of my control. When I come up, I am tired and breathless, but not from fighting the wave...from the adrenaline rush of my surrender.

I make my way back through that chaos over and over again to experience the power and the release. I walk onto the beach, feeling breathless and exhausted, proud and strong like I won a battle, maybe lost it even. And it's not the battle against the waves I'm talking about, it's a battle against surrender and my ego mind. In that moment when I'm in the fetal position, rolling through the crashing wave, I'm not thinking about power or control or even survival. I'm just there, completely and utterly present in a moment, alone and alive. And when I come up for air, nothing around me has changed. The other surfers are still in the line-up, their backs to me watching for formed waves and waiting for their own ride to whatever it is they feel compelled by out there. I imagine it will be different at each stage of the game as my skills develop. Maybe one day I'll love the ride on top more than I crave the loss of control at the bottom. In the meantime, I'll keep increasing my strength, gifted to me by the sea with a wink and a nod, a lover playing hard to get and impossible to tame. Who, like me, fights aggressively and passionately to come into the full presence of its power. 

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