I have surfed for years – my launching style worked, although I always struggled and knew my style was incredibly ungraceful to watch. I got up and I stayed up. I’m not your typical surfer – I was built big from birth, and I am incredibly physically awkward in the best of times thanks to malformed hips. My parents were told that I would never run, and would struggle with walking – but thanks to the dedication of my mother (an occupational therapist at that time), I learned to do both, found my way around many physical restraints, including surfing.
For those who fear surfing – yes, surfing is not easy – from the choppy surf, to the breaking waves which push a surfer as far back despite every effort to push forward. But there is a peace, even when being rolled in the surf whilst trying to catch a wave, that cannot be found elsewhere. Surfing involves a control of one’s fears and self doubts, whilst directing every physical movement with the mental determination to adapt and become one with the natural forces of the moon, wind and ocean. When the self perfects the moment of symbiosis with nature, the bliss is beyond comphrehnension.
For years, my style has guided me well through waves, from flat to wild seas, to white water to perfect waves. I have considered my style successful, because I have accomplished the bliss of surfing.
But yesterday, my surf coach, who despite my physical challenges has been entirely unimpressed with my launches, told me to move my hands two centimetres. She has been pushing me to find a way around my fumbled launches. Unfortunately, for me, she only had two students yesterday – and she recommended that during the launch I let go of the board and move my hands back two centimetres to balance my hips during the lauch. I tried and tried, but kept falling. I could not get up, and I found the experience embarrasing and a waste of my time. The battering I took was unrelentless, and embarassing.
As the class was to be completed, I realised I had not seen in my mind the launch. I kept seeing myself launching with my trusted style. So, I did it – I saw myself gracefully launching onto the wave, and flowing through with the style of the skilled surfers I admired.
And then, on the next wave, I did it. I let go of the board as I caught the wave and slipped my hands up two centimetres and breathed in, and launched. And it happened, I launched with no acknwardness – no fumbling, I just did it. It was the easiest launch I had ever achieved. And the ride, it was unbelievable. When it finished, I thought – that was an incredible fluke. So, I paddled back out and did it again, and again I launched with fluent power into a stable stance. When I looked back to my coach, she was jumping with enthusiasm, and beside her were others who were also cheering me on and waving.
As I walked off the beach with my board, one of the other surfers ran to me and thanked me. I was stunned, as this was a surfer I had almost wiped out on at least two occasions during the lesson. She said, she had seen me surf before and found my style painful to watch because it was so ungraceful. She had watched me during the lesson, and had told her granddaughter to watch me struggle and fall. They had laughed and scored my wipe outs, and they thought I would give up because they could see that I was struggling to shift my hips. But, when I got it (which she did not think I would), she was estatic and showed her granddaughter that anyone can achieve grace in life, if they do not give up but try – even when failure is virtually the only outcome.
I have learned that changing a mindset can overcome not only physical limitations, but also introduce useful improvements on existing skill sets.
May your day bring to you the joy of learning to better a skilll upon which you rely.
Submitted by: Katrina Brown BA JD ATIA TEP SSA, Senior Commercial and Property Lawyer, Nautilus Law Group