Surfing the Waves of Life

surfing the waves of life

“Surf­ing gives me a sense of being one with all of cre­ation, being one with the ocean, being one with the heavens…there’s a feel­ing of com­plete­ness.” Anona Napoleon – Surf­ing For Life

I spent my morn­ing mak­ing love to the ocean in the best way that I know how…catching waves. Surf­ing is won­der­fully sym­bolic and has taught me so much about life. Being out with my board, watch­ing the waves come in is such a beau­ti­ful co-creative dance, with the ocean as my cre­ative part­ner.

It’s a com­plete bal­ance between let­ting things hap­pen and mak­ing things hap­pen, and posi­tion­ing myself so ele­gantly in the per­fect spot to align with the per­fect tim­ing of the wave, using it’s force to pro­pel me forward…much like life, don’t you think? And as in life, some­times we have to face our fears when a big wave is com­ing our way, the fear of catch­ing it, and the fear of not catch­ing it.

But as in life, it’s not about how many times you fall or fail, it’s about the get­ting back up, the swim­ming back out there to try and catch another one.

Watch­ing the ebb and flow of the ocean waves always reminds me of the ebb and flow of my own life. While I’m sit­ting on my board watch­ing the ocean, it’s con­stantly shift­ing. There’s not a sin­gle moment that things stay the same – a greater reflec­tion of life. Noth­ing is con­stant, every­thing is always shift­ing and changing.

In Bud­dhist teach­ings, they talk about this change and refer to it as imper­ma­nence. Imper­ma­nence means that every­thing changes and noth­ing remains the same in any con­sec­u­tive moment. Pema Chö­drön, one of my teach­ers, talks about this and how peo­ple are always seek­ing ground’, mean­ing we’re always look­ing for some­thing solid to hold on to, seek­ing to gain solid ground under our feet, and a sort of cling­ing takes place.

We may be aware of this on a men­tal level – a con­cep­tual level, but for most peo­ple, on an emo­tional level, there’s a sort of uneasi­ness to this con­stant flux of change. We have this back­ground hum of uneasi­ness, because noth­ing is solid, noth­ing is sta­tic – every­thing is always chang­ing.

We cling to our rela­tion­ships, to our pos­ses­sions, to our con­cepts of who we are as peo­ple. We cling to the past or an idea of the future. We inher­ently want things to stay the same – and it can’t, it’s impos­si­ble.

But this is what makes life so bit­ter sweet, and tast­ing the full range of what life has to offers is one of the great­est gifts of being human.

“We know that all is imper­ma­nent; we know that every­thing wears out. Although we can buy this truth intel­lec­tu­ally, emo­tion­ally we have a deep-rooted aver­sion to it.

We want per­ma­nence; we expect per­ma­nence. Our nat­ural ten­dency is to seek secu­rity; we believe we can find it. We expe­ri­ence imper­ma­nence at the every­day level as frus­tra­tion. We use our daily activ­ity as a shield against the fun­da­men­tal ambi­gu­ity of our sit­u­a­tion, expend­ing tremen­dous energy try­ing to ward off imper­ma­nence and death.

We don’t like it that our bod­ies change shape. We don’t like it that we age. We are afraid of wrin­kles and sag­ging skin. We use health prod­ucts as if we actu­ally believe that our skin, our hair, our eyes and teeth, might some­how mirac­u­lously escape the truth of imper­ma­nence.” – Pema Chö­drön “The Places That Scare You“

We are often sad and suf­fer a lot when things change, but change and imper­ma­nence have a pos­i­tive side. Thanks to imper­ma­nence, every­thing is pos­si­ble. Life itself is pos­si­ble. Because of imper­ma­nence, the pure joy and bliss of catch­ing waves is possible.

Yes indeed, surf­ing has taught me much. We encounter waves in every minute of every day, and some waves are big­ger than oth­ers. We have times of big waves crash­ing down on us and other times when the water is still.

We’re all learn­ing to nav­i­gate the waters of this world – of our lives. And the best we can do, instead of get­ting pum­meled by the waves, is pad­dle as hard as we can, drop in on a wave, catch it, stand up on our board and ride it for as long as we can. And when the ride is over, be grate­ful for the ride and that we did our best.

I’m so grate­ful to align in this dance with the ocean. When I’m on a wave, it feels like a per­fect moment in time – oh so fleet­ing. I have so much respect for this incred­i­ble force in nature and am con­stantly hum­bled by her power. So much love to you Mama Ocean, let your waters run clean and heal the world.

Surf­ing soothes me, it’s always been a kind of Zen expe­ri­ence for me. The ocean is so mag­nif­i­cent, peace­ful, and awe­some. The rest of the world dis­ap­pears for me when I’m on a wave. Paul Walker

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