Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wait for iiiiiiiiit! ( The Perfect Wave or the Pounding)

Having had the opportunity recently to watch at length the behavior of surfers, I have observed a few consistent patterns.  One is that many of them are as children, understanding the innate joy of play.  Putting the cares of the world aside, they head into the pounding surf, ready to take on the unpredictable nature of the waves.  This purposeful vulnerability must bring a reminder that life is short, youth is fleeting, and aging happens all too quickly.

I have also observed that there is more than one way to approach this challenge.  I notice that some surfers seem to glory in the experience, drinking deeply of the exhilaration, while frequently drinking deeply of the salt after a particularly impressive wipeout.  This does nothing to hinder their enthusiasm, nor does it frighten them away from tackling the next big one to come along.

These are the type I love to watch.  They seem equally oblivious to the show they are giving me as they are to the consequences of their risk-taking; the adventure is all about them and their pursuit of the great ride.

A higher percentage of surfers belong in another category.  I call them the drifters.  They may have told all their friends, 'I am going surfing today', but they are all talk and no show.  While sunning themselves like sea lions, they float on their boards for hours at a time, seemingly waiting for the perfect wave that, in their minds, must never come. 

What are they really waiting for?  Do they think they will become expert without taking a few chances?  Failure is part of the process.  Experimentation is the precursor to success.  A few good poundings are the price to be paid.

Maybe I am not one to talk.  I can never see myself venturing out into the surf that way.  Certainly I would fall into the latter category, hoping for a little sun on my face as the only reward for the day.

But I hope that as a metaphor for life, that I belong in the first group; that I am venturing into deeper, more challenging water, for that is where the true opportunities lie.  Youth is fleeting, in fact in my case, it has pretty much flown.  I am all too aware that life is short and the time for boldness is now.  It is time to grab my board and go head first into the pounding surf.  I may not successfully ride the first wave.  Nor the second one either.  But I still intend to keep on trying, clutching tightly to the hope of "The Big One".

If nothing else, I intend to recapture the joy of play.

Another lesson I have learned from the surfers?  Regardless of the number of successful rides, everyone gets thumped and bruised by the erratic, sneaky waves anyway.  So why not take a few risks?


Unknown said...

Ardith - what a lovely comparison surfing and life ... Can I tell you a secret - I learnt to drive at the age of 32. I had a crazy fear of it till then and I can tell you I felt like the category one surfer when I succeeded. Life is so much more fun and way simpler now : ) Age is no barrier ...

Laura said...

I love your analogies. Love this post!

Kim said...

I think I fall into both categories at some point ~ great post!

Anonymous said...

The greatest respect learned for the mastery of the sea was chasing sea lions on Oahu on a seadoo. Nothing more exhilarating that cutting through waves and jumping the curl. That second of inattention, then the crashing of a 10' wave sending me 20' away from my trusty and now riderless steed. I was laughing throughout.

Even when I was picked up and planted back on my steed. Back at it again.

Sometimes it's being there that matters. How we got there is of little consequence. What we do when we are there is up to us...