I always warm-up before I go out into the water, which gives me the opportunity to contemplate the ocean and how it’s behaving. I watch the water with a concoction of fear, self-awareness, anticipation, excitement, dread and hope. As soon as the icy water greets my feet and embraces my knees and laps at my chest, tickles my chin and washes over my hair, I feel a kind of senseless joy. Who could know that such a simple pleasure could (literally) wash away any negativities I have.
I paddle out to the line-up with the fantasy of riding a wave down the line and scoring that addictive hit that we surfers call “stoke”. I get pounded in the face by white-water as I paddle and my arms threaten to go on strike (not today you weaklings). I sit up on my board and wait. The waves are either a good size (aka, small and not so threatening) or massive and frightening. I still try. I’ve got the beach to myself. I don’t have to worry about getting in other surfers’ ways. My mistakes will be unnoticed (save by the ocean, myself and that little camera recording every sniffle, every grunt and every “looks-like-I’m-going-to-punch-somebody” paddle face).
The water walls up. Should I go? Am I in the right spot?
I’m more than likely not. I can never seem to get the “spot” part of the wave selection right. It’s possibly because I surf a beach break. Breaks keep moving around with every incoming set. I swivel and I paddle. I get excited and terrified. But I’m committed. Usually, if it’s a big wave, I start holding my breath already because I just know I’m not going to make it. It’s going to pick my tail up and haul me forwards and over the falls in mere seconds. Might as well start holding the breath and bracing for the tumbling of the hold down. If it’s small, I am excited. I can DO this! I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can. Sometimes I can. Sometimes I miss the wave. Sometimes I fall off the wave. Sometimes I just utterly suck.
It’s a good day when I can get it right.
It’s even a good day when I can’t.
You have to taste failure (like a salty wave in the face) to appreciate success. My successes are little bits of incremental gains in confidence. I think I can do it. I think I can I think I can I think I can. My journey is long but I’ve learned a lot so far. Bring the rest of it on!