April 26, 2012
I had never been surfing before but had always viewed it as something that simply defines you as a quintessential badass. By this mere fact, I was allured to the board and becoming a self-proclaimed badass.
I'm not a good swimmer. I hold my nose when I go under water. I understood surfing would push my aquatic abilities but I'm in Costa Rica and I'm up for the challenge.
Two locals taught us on the shore. Imaginary surfboards were lined in the sand and we practiced doing an upward facing dog which led to a standing position on the board. After the precautionary information was explained, it was time to head out into water.
The first trip, would simply be lying on my stomach. I'd ride the wave allowing myself to feel the tide and pull of the water.
This will be fantastic I thought. I just get to lie here and cruise into shore.
I was on the board for a total of 3.2 seconds before a wave pummeled over me and swirled me around a bit before allowing my head to bob up for air.
Alright. That's it. I'm out. What was I thinking? I don't swim. I'm not badass. I belong on shore doing something less strenuous like whittling a stick or applying more sunscreen to my pasty white skin.
As water drained out of my ears, nose, and eyeballs, I was able to see a bit more clearly.
Screw stick whittling. Let's give this a real shot.
I marched back out pulling the board and my new attitude with me.
It's fierce out there. As Yohan, my instructor, reconizged the right wave rolling in, he'd holler to get on the board. I'm facing the rolling waves and a few crash into my face before Yohan spins my board around to face shore.
In an instant, I feel the sensation from the wave curl under my board and I know that's my queue to push myself up in preparation to stand.
As I get up, I mentally check the notes Yohan taught on shore. Foot placement, knees over ankles, butt stuck out and balancing low. Hands straight and spanning the width of my board.
Everything was in check. I was standing. Granted, it was only for 2 seconds but now I knew I could do it.
This time, I was ready to march back out before my head had even surfaced.
I was addicted. A few more attempts, and I was now regularly surfing upright to shore.
Runs of success pushed me to crave more wins and trips where I was less successful only pushed me to do it again and to do it better.
By the end of my session, I felt exhilarated. I took some mean falls and succeeded at some smooth rides. In the end though, it was all about the process.
Far too often, as perfectionists, type-a personalities, and human beings, we beat ourselves up on the status of our successes and failures. Far too often, we let ourselves become defined by a win or a loss. Most often, it's the seemingly failing moments we focus on and sulk into; spending more time basking in a downfall than rising from it to move on to the next wave.
What we should focus on is the ride. It can beat you up, push you down, leave you with shortness of breathe, take your breathe away, balance you, motivate you, make you stronger, and have you bursting with exhilaration.
But at the end of it, hopfully you walk away simply feeling like a badass.