A few years ago I spent a year living in Hawaii on Oahu. I was going through a rough patch…the adage “release that which no longer serves you” was an elusive intangible notion that I wasn’t ready to apply to my life. I took up surfing, longboarding to be exact.
I was more into the cruisy feathery rides, as opposed to the barrel reef breaks that thrill-seeking short boarders crave. As an aside, the one time I did attempt to surf a reef break, the steep face of the wave more of a foe than anything else, I wound up with a chipped tooth from my board crashing down on my head. It stands as a reminder to always heed my intuition (which had told me loud and clear to avoid that reef break).
My favorite places to surf were Barber’s Point on the southern part of the west side of the island, and Puena Point on the North Shore. One day I realized that I had been out for a couple of hours and I had thought of nothing. Surfing (unlike cycling which I do here in Boulder, Colorado), requires that you be fully present. You are busy paddling, positioning, constantly checking the horizon.
Cycling on the other hand gives you ample time to ponder, to muse. Your feet pedal and your mind can just tick away, thinking about this or that. That particular moment on that particular day I was so pleasantly surprised to find that I had not thought of my own problems for a solid 2 hours.
And then I realized something else. When you are surfing, as you paddle out towards an oncoming wave, if you meet it from any other angle than head on, you are pummeled, thrown off of your board. If you meet it dead center, you can go up and over the wave with relative ease. (I never did figure out how to duck dive on my longboard).
I saw similarities in my own personal life. There was a situation that I was allowing to cause me great unhappiness, and I wasn’t doing anything about it. I had become a stranger to the happy vibrant person I had been for most of my life.
I wasn’t meeting the situation head on. Eventually I found the strength to deal with the situation, to take it on front and center (that coincided with finding my meditation practice). It was the hardest thing I had ever dealt with until then. (Yes, there was a man involved) And I have dealt with far more difficult situations since.
It is quite a simple notion, but it is also profound if we actually practice it. If we don’t paddle straight into the wave (whether it’s a bad habit, a toxic relationship, an emotion that is destroying us), if we don’t paddle into it and continue to let it pummel us from an angle, we can’t really be well.
Paddling into something that is large and looms out there can feel quite uncomfortable, but if we can be with that discomfort and keep paddling, the sky is the limit.
Rob love surfing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing. He’s writing about them in this blog.