My next few times surfing after Hawaii I realized what a fluke my first experience had been. In San Diego, Costa Rica and Mexico the ocean kicked my ass much harder than it had in Hawaii. The water was colder. The beaches were rockier. My body immediately broke out into surf rash whenever I looked at a board. And the waves were not as easy to catch.
But, I kept at it. Like a true addict I turned a blind eye to the signs that I was hurting myself. I laughed off my arms that were so sore I couldn’t lift them to brush my hair. I slathered on aloe vera and Neosporin to my surf rash, pretending my body didn’t look like I had taken a cheese grater to it. And I was secretly proud of all the bumps and bruises making me look like a 7-year old girl at the end of summer.
Every wave I actually caught washed away the pain.
And, it wasn’t just the thrill of the ride I craved. I relished the whole ritual. Waking up before dawn, and waxing my board. Carrying it down to the beach, my feet tortured by the pebbled roads. Paddling out in the dark, silent water. Watching the sunrise over the horizon. Straddling the board and gently rocking as I watched the first class surfers cutting across the sea. Spotting the occasional turtle or dolphin. And, yes, riding the few waves I managed to catch.
Surfing taught me patience. And living in the moment. And that the wave missed is just as beautiful as the wave caught. And that anything worth doing is worth working hard for.
Surfing taught me that I am strong, and can be graceful, and have great determination. It reminded me to look around, catch my breath, and just go for it.
That’s me…standing up…and surfing!