Let’s be clear: I’ve taken one surf lesson (for basically one hour) in my entire life, so when I say things like “yah, I surf now,” ignore me, haha.
THAT SAID, the one and some hour(s) I was out there proved challenging yet incredible, and there was a lot that resonated with me while I was trying to Blue Crush-It for the first time. Of course there was much to practice from a technical standpoint, but introspectively as well.
I’d spent days prior to getting out there watching these incredibly talented surfers bob in the water, wait for the set and then fight and/or show-off who could capture the perfect drop, though I couldn’t appreciate what it really took until I tried it for myself. Instantly I could see how people would be so easily addicted to that rush, because once it “clicks” it’s amazing.
But being me, I couldn’t ignore a few key teachings that presented themselves while I was out there making my first attempt at becoming a free-spirited surfer girl, so here are my biggest take-aways, aside from a sore body yet happy heart:
1. Step by Step
This one really hit home with me. I quite literally have a tattoo that says, “a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step,” so I really connected to this point as it was told to me over and over and over again.
We’d booked our lesson with some local teachers who spoke English, but barely. There was a lot of interpreting based on guess-work, assumptions, trial and error, and truthfully, watching everyone else around.
But my teacher kept saying to me, “Step by Step” and when I would try and fail but maybe get a bit better at one part, “Step by Step” was my mantra and became my personal coaching line as I geared up for the next wave: paddle, pop, balance, ride. I just had to master that sequence and I’d be fine. When I inevitably faltered at one step, I would focus, re-ground, try not to get frustrated and try again…step by step. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have the courage to try to stand up, so I’d body-board the wave which was equally as fun, haha, but not the point and I hated wasting a wave, so I’d simply take it back to step one and try again the next time.
2. Patience is a Virtue
The ocean is an amazingly curious and terrifying place to me. I was really quite intimated by the waves at first, “relax, relax,” my teacher kept saying to my obviously tense demeanour. But patience with both myself, and with the waves was something I had to get comfortable with if I was going to have any success at this whatsoever.
The sets come and go with this insane intensity where one minute you’re a sitting duck on your board, barely a ripple in sight, while moments later you’re getting tossed by white-caps (or riding them if done correctly) but you rest only when the ocean rests, and you ride not when you’re ready, but when she is. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Ready or Not, Here She Comes
I don’t like to do things I’m not good it. The trouble with that is it makes it challenging to try something new. I typically don’t enjoy allowing others watch my attempts, mistakes or slip-ups, and this entire experience was on full display for everyone around which made me a bit uncomfortable to start. I have confidence in my abilities for most land-sports, but this was way out of my league, so needless to say I was intimidated.
And then the first wave came, my instructor told me paddle and I literally had no idea what to do with myself despite having practiced on the beach. I froze. I wasn’t ready, but the wave was, and so I rode it like a seal, belly-down on my board both disappointed in myself but also shocked at how quickly it came and how I was meant to just, stand up.
And that’s also when I knew – there’s no trial run here. There are no training wheels. This is something that you have to make like Nike and just-do-it. Take the plunge, if you will, because of course that was the inevitable result of those first few runs regardless. Wobble-wobble, splash.
4. When you know, you know
So after a few accidental mouth-fulls of sea water (yes, gross), something happened…it finally clicked.
My teacher kept saying, “you like this” and then using his hand like a finger board and positioning in what honestly to me looked like the exact same, saying, “be like this.” I thought he was telling me to bend my knees more, but what he was actually saying was for me to turn sideways. I don’t even remember how I made it happen, but finally one time I paddled, popped, turned and then literally out loud was like “ohhhhhh!” because I could feel it.
There was no amount of self-talk or visualizing the steps in my head that could have brought about the same true understanding as when I actually went for it and felt it for myself. To me, this was the ultimate take-away.
I spend so much of my time trying not to feel things, but this was a literal example of that being the only way to find clarity. To leave the old ways of being or doing behind and move forward with a truly authentic understanding of what needs to be done.
The beautiful thing about this is it takes us back to lesson one: step by step. I could get up on a few runs, but it didn’t look pretty and definitely the form needs to be improved. So now, I get to build on the basics that I’ve come to know, and step by step, get better.
I think it’s pretty cool how splashing around for one hour in the sun, having such a good time while simultaneously being pushed to a near breaking point can bring about such an important realization as well.
You’ll notice in that first photo (which I had no idea anyone was taking) I’ve got a smile across my face that I couldn’t wipe off if I tried. What was captured here is an honest moment of true bliss and true happiness I had no idea this Canadian mountain-lover would ever find on a surf board.