Even through the full smile of my greeting and my obvious eagerness to paddle out again, he could read it on my face. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said with the confidence to back up his words..
“Do you, now?” I was smiling because I was sure that he did. I considered myself lucky to have an intuitive teacher, especially at times like this.
“Yes. You’re worried and you shouldn’t be. It’s really mellow today and I know you’ll be fine.”
I knew it too, actually. First and foremost I trust that he would never take a student out in conditions beyond their abilities. On this particular day, however, I was more worried about myself than I was about the conditions.
I had been hoping to rejoin the lineup at the break I felt most comfortable. So when my surf instruction told me to meet him at Santa Monica I was a little disappointed. It’s not that I was unfamiliar with the spot or that we hadn’t surfed there before. It was just so much more . . . open and more expansive than my preferred Sunset spot that I’ll admit, it made me a little anxious.
Being a beginner who is unable to surf often is one thing. But being a beginner who hasn’t surfed in nearly a year is another thing entirely. What preoccupied me was the thought that after so many landlocked months I might have lost all the progress we had made last year. Had all my efforts just become another victim of Covid-19? of 2020?
Pep talk and prep taken care of, we headed into the surf. Smoke from the ongoing wildfires blocked out the sun and blanketed the sky in a grey that complemented my preoccupations. Somehow it just seems wrong to worry as much on a sunny day in the surf in southern California.
I’ve always loved paddling out. Heading over the incoming waves I am always smiling and thinking of nothing else. With every stroke I felt more at ease and by the time I’ve made it to the outside I feel relaxed. I’m still concerned about m Once in the lineup, we were greeted by a pod of dolphins—definitely a good sign.
When it’s finally time to see how well I manage after my extended layup I am elated at what my body remembers without keeping my brain in the loop. Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t suddenly a better surfer. I was still as much a beginner as I was before and wiped out pretty much as expected.
When I resurfaced it was with a broad smile, secure in the knowledge that I wasn’t any less of a surfer. That meant I was still moving forward and I couldn’t have been happier. Any worry about having lost progress was gone, replaced by the pure joy of being back in the water.
Kinda the whole point.