Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A time to paddle board, and a time to surf

I've always wondered: If I lived in California or Hawaii, would I have been a surfer girl? I'm pretty confident that answer would be yes. Seems that surfing's in my DNA. Occasionally, I have daydreams of cruising down stretches of coastal highway in the old VW bus I hope to own one day, surf board strapped to the top, hair blowing out the window on one side and the doggie I also hope to own one day hanging his head out the other, ears and tongue flapping in the wind; me, my surf board, my dog, and my veggie oil bus. I even sort of look like a beach-head. And while I don't possess an extraordinary sense of balance, it's not so bad. Things like yoga and dance help with coordination.

It's a little harder to envision myself on the board, effortlessly riding a wave in the beautiful, wild ocean, without picturing myself tossed to and fro like a helpless little rag doll. I've tried surfing just two times. Paddled out like a pro, waited on my stomach with my board parallel to the waves, watching for just the right moment to turn and paddle like crazy at the tip of the wave. Even managed to hop up and stand for a few glorious moments before tumbling sideways, pulled beneath the surf. But that was just the beginning, bunny slopes, an appetizer. I hunger for the real meal.

Perhaps that's why paddle boarding is such a good starting point. I paddled out in the lake yesterday with a captive audience that hoped for some good entertainment (i.e., falling off the board), steadied myself, swung up on the board, stood up and just began paddling. No problemo. Like I was born for this. My confidence level soared and I felt the rush of freedom, like the whole lake now lay before me to conquer.

Thing is, with paddle boarding in a lake such as this, there are no waves. No tide, no bumps. Just my board cutting through the waters like glass. Paddle boarding can be good conditioning for surfing, at least getting comfortable standing on a board and traveling through water, but it sure ain't surfing.

Practicing gratitude in the little things of life, I'm learning, is a bit like paddle boarding. Like getting to try out the feel of a board beneath your feet, hovering atop the water, without the crash of waves around you; knowing that one day when you transition to real surf, your balance and skillfulness and focus will surely be tested. You'll probably get knocked around. Yeah, it's a bit like that, going from gliding across the water, thanking God for sun gleaming bright, to thanking God for hope and life in the throes of life's waves. You never really know when the transition will come, just the sense that the one is helping prepare you for the other.

But the rush of trust is great out in the wild ocean; both terrifying and exhilarating. There's a time for paddle boarding, and a time for surfing. Living in daily gratitude is training for both.

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