I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m leaving Costa Rica today. My Women’s Quest retreat is finished. Well, I still have a few cups of coffee to drink, some goodbyes to say and some tears to shed. I know from my retreat in March, I will be processing my insights from this trip for awhile. So, if you don’t want to read about it anymore, then be careful. There will be a few more posts. If you do, then stay tuned.
I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that my first blog on Lessons from the Surf was dead on. I think I ended my trip with the same commitment issues. I never could really commit to surfing and catching that wave. I did catch some, and I had a blast, but I never really committed to it. I sort of regret it. My first thought was, dammit, why couldn’t you do it? Why didn’t you do it? Then, I remembered that this is my journey, and it takes what it takes. I’m right where I need to be.
What did I learn from surfing? I learned a lot. I knew I would have fear about standing up while flying on the crest of a wave. That was a given, and it was true. But, it wasn’t the fear of falling. That went away after about five wipe outs. It didn’t hurt. Who cares? It was fun. What I had was a fear of integrating with that powerful surge of a wave and flowing with it. I did get up on some big waves, and I felt the adrenalin rush. In fact, I was on cloud nine and high as a kite every time I went out into the surf. But, I don’t think my “wave” is located in the water. So, that’s not the one I was being challenged to catch.
I stepped into my power when I turned 50. I finally said, I’m going to be me. The moment I accepted where I was, my shortcomings, my failures, my talents and my skills, I started to feel that little push that comes when the wave takes the board. When you feel that, Ramon, my surf instructor says, take two or three more paddles and “pop up.” For my 50th birthday, I asked all my friends to give me something that was indicative of our relationship and who I am to them. I was blown away with the letters, the paintings, the beautiful sentiments that celebrated my sense of humor, spirit, pain, growth, ability to love and how much they loved me. That was the surge of power for me. It took a few “paddles” to step into that, and I’ve wiped out a couple of times, but I’m learning to ride the wave of my own power.
The analogies of surfing to life are endless. After I learned to surf on the baby waves or the “fluff” as the surf instructors call it, Ismael encouraged me to go on the outside. The outside is where the experienced surfers go to sit and wait on the prime waves. They come every 5-15 minutes, so there is a lot more waiting than when you are in the fluff. You have to paddle a lot, too. You start to float in every time the water moves. Plus, when there is a wave coming that you don’t want to take, you have to paddle into it. I couldn’t touch bottom, and it felt really empowering being out there. It was really fun to sit out with the other surfers and talk. It was much more quiet out there, and everyone paddled around and waited for their turn to go. It was just you and them and the water. I said to Becca, “So this is what surfers do all the time?” I’m sure this is where they bond, talk about their last wave, the girl or guy they like, and what they want to do on the next wave. I imagine this is where they build community and bond. I loved that part of it.
When I tried to take my first wave from the outside, Ismael pushed me onto it to catch it. The power and speed of that wave was so much faster than I’d ever felt in my few days of surfing. When the wave took the board, there was no mistaking it. The gift was that it was actually easier to stand because the board was more stable. But, I was scared. When I wiped out pretty quickly, the amount of water that tossed me about was crazy. Ismael says, enjoy the washing machine. It was so much more powerful out there. I couldn’t wait to try it again. I did it several times, and Ismael tried to give me some pointers that helped ….look forward onto the beach…put your foot on the logo….turn your feet to the right…stand low… It all helped. But, the one that really helped was from brutally honest, beautiful Jo. “You are totally hesitating. You have to just say ‘f**k it, I’m doing this.” Oh, my…could I really do that?
I did ride a wave in. I wiped out fairly soon but then rode it all the way to the beach on my stomach. My group was cheering for me and telling me I had kahunas. I didn’t really feel like I did, but, hey, I’ll take it. They thought it was awesome that I got out there and tried it. That’s where I feel my life is right now. I’m getting out there and trying some hard stuff. I’m trying some new things. I’m failing. I’m succeeding. I’m building community in a new way. That’s why I came to surf. I wanted to know what it physically feels like in my body to surf. I can now take that home with me, and when I feel the next wave take me, I’m going to say, F**k it, I’m doing this.