This article is an excuse to have some cool surfing pictures on my website but also I hope is a nice way of reminding ourselves to trust in life and not fight against it!
I surf a bit. I love surfing, but at the moment I live too far from the sea and to be honest I have probably been a bit fearful in the past to progress quickly but it matters not and I am where I am on my surfing journey! It’s a lifestyle and has already taken me to some stunning locations and that again is part of the attraction for me. I love the feeling of catching a wave and i love sitting out back – perched on my board beyond the breaking waves is a very meditative, smack in the middle of nature feeling and a big part of my surfing experience. I am not sure this is the case for everyone; I see some surfers and they are up and down, in and out non-stop. These guys and girls are surf fit and spend a lot of time in the water and know instinctively which waves to pick. Us part-timers need a little longer to consider our options, we contemplate the next move while gaining important time to get our breath back from the paddle out.
Part of the surfing experience can be unpleasant and the one I am thinking about used to happen to me quite a lot. Unpleasant situations in my life also used to happen a lot but as I have begun to master my mind they happen much less often and when they do I am able to respond to them with clarity and reason. So, I would like to coin a phrase, ‘surfing the mind’. As you gain experience, you understand the ocean waves better. As you gain experience of your mind, you understand the rips and currents of thoughts and emotions that can be so very debilitating. Speak to any surfer and they will tell you – time in the water. You can only learn and understand by experiencing; this is the same for the mind, you have to get inside yourself and observe.
Hold me down is a surfing term for being held under by the pressure of the wave. So, you wipeout on a big (or big in my terms) wave and you are held underneath the water by the pressure of the churning water, very much like a washing machine! At first, I would fight this with all my might and time and time again would nearly drown. I would eventually reach the surface, exhausted and humbled. Sometimes, I would immediately be hit by the next wave and be taken through the whole experience again! Part of the problem here is going surfing with my mates (better surfers) who were looking out for me, thanks fellas!
This happened to me far too many times but at some point I had a realisation that if I just relaxed, held my breath and surrendered to the ocean the whole experience would be much more pleasant! I tried this and indeed it is – give in to the sea and gravity will work out the rest. From this day forwards, surfing became much easier for me. Yes, you still get battered and bruised but it’s okay and the process will be calmer, smoother and much less stressful as you surrender and float to the surface.
This is the same in life – if you resist experiences, people and situations in your life it makes things so much harder and you will just keep churning. When life ‘holds you down’ don’t resist and fight against it – you are meant to be in the washing machine and it’s okay to be there, it is part of the balance of life and it is how you react to the situation that matters. Trust in life, have faith that you will get through, you will surface and breath in that beautiful air again. Relax, trust and surrender.
This is also about balance. Life is full of peaks and troughs and the trick is to to be balanced in your approach. Accepting of all, good or bad. One day.. maybe.. just maybe I’ll be cruising through the ‘Pope’s living room’* and all those times I got stuck in the washing machine will have been worth it.
*surfing term for riding inside the tube of a barrelling wave, the ultimate surfing experience!
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.
Alan Watts, philosopher.