A Few Things Surfing Taught Me About How to Do Life
We all have talent. Each and every one of us has a light inside that is just there, waiting to be shown to the world. But when we don’t see our own light (or our talent), or we think that our light isn’t unique or special, we keep it hidden.
And then we never learn life lessons from it. Nor do we give others the benefit of learning from them either.
While I was growing up, I didn’t realize this, but surfing was something that came to me like second nature. The first time I tried it, I was about 8 or 9 years old and I stood up on my first try.
I'm sure that growing up in a surfing town and watching professional surfers helped a lot (and we'll get back to why that's important later), but I also went into it with a total beginner’s mind about it and, for a while, I had a lot of fun doing it.
In the end, I never got really good at surfing. I got bored with the scene and the competitiveness (as I do with so many things) and I moved on to other things.
But now, when I look back, I realize that even though I wasn't one of those kids that became obsessed with chasing the next big wave, learning to ride the waves taught me some really big lessons about life.
I'll share them with you today.
#1. Navigating life is just the same as riding a wave.
As with riding a wave, and so with life, you've got to know when to lean in, when to lean back and when to turn, in order to stay above water and really enjoy the ride.
When you paddle into a wave you've got to quickly stand up on the board and put all of your weight forward. You've got to really go for it. If you second guess yourself or hold back, you'll likely wipe out (which ultimately leads to an uncomfortable amount of salt water up your nose. #notfun).
Also, if you don't turn with the direction and flow of the wave, and don’t make slight adjustments as you move along, you'll find yourself veering off or riding against the wave, and that just doesn't work.
The same goes for life. If you want to start something, you've got to learn how to trust your intuition or your instincts to guide you forward, and then really lean into that in order to get that momentum going. Then, of course, you've got to step back sometimes to make slight adjustments or course correct. And, finally, the most important part - stop trying to control things and learn to just enjoy the ride.
#2. There’s always something bigger than me - and that's ok because I'm still a part of it.
It’s pretty funny how egocentric we humans are. We think that we’re the biggest, the best, and the most powerful beings in the universe.
Ha! Ever been in the Pacific Ocean? Mess with her and she’ll show that ego who’s really the one with all the power. She’ll humble you, instantaneously. But, really, the cool thing is that when you have the intention of coexisting with, being at one with, and even playing with her she'll bring more wonder to your life than you could ever imagine.
Surfing taught me that the ocean is a powerful force of nature, just like I am (and just like everything else in the Universe is), but instead of trying to control everything about it in order to get what I want out of it, it feels really, really good to be present and at one with it.
That's something we can all learn about life, in general. The more present we are with one another, the less we try to control. And the more we see that we're all interconnected anyway, the more pleasure we'll have in life.
#3. It's ok to fail - A LOT.
As I said before, when you're learning how to surf, chances are high that you'll wipe out - a lot. That's to be expected.
But, you know what? You'll get yourself back on the board and try again.
Why don't we do that with most things in life? Why do we think it's not ok to fail at things?
Maybe because with surfing, you don’t really have much choice other than to get into flow and allow your instincts or intuition to guide you forward to get the reward.
With life - maybe we rely too much on our minds or our intellect. And that brings in the fear.
Fear of judgment. Fear of failure.
So, maybe the takeaway for this one is: Let’s get out of our heads, give ourselves the permission to fail, and get back on the board so that we can experience the amazing feeling of succeeding (in whatever form success looks like to each of us).
And finally, #4. Let yourself be inspired and then forge your own path.
Like I said in the beginning, I learned how to stand up on a surfboard the first time I tried because I spent years watching professional surfers.
I was that little kid sitting on the beach, observing how they each moved differently with the waves, how one surfer liked to cruise slowly on a longboard, how the others liked to turn quickly on their shortboards. How they all course-corrected when they needed to so they could get longer rides, how they leaned in, and how they gracefully (and often really ungracefully) fell and then got back up again.
This is how I do life.. I observe, listen, and learn so much by seeing others do things in their own way, and then I get inspired to take action in my own way.
The thing is, I didn’t realize until recently that it's SO ok to go into things with a beginner’s mind and stay there for as long as you can. It’s ok to completely let go of the idea that you have to know everything and that, if you don’t, you’ll fail. Because it’s ok to fall (fail) and get back up again. When you get back up again, you’ll rise.
When you rise, you gain the confidence to forge your own path. When you forge your own path, you make magic. When you make magic, you shine your light. And when you shine your light, you light the way for a lot of us, through the lessons that we all need to learn to thrive in this world.
So, that’s about it.
Surfing taught me many, many lessons about how to live life, and I’m so happy that I get to share a few of those lessons with you here.
Here’s to shining our lights.
With love + aloha,