“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