The Florida coasts of a few great areas on our coasts to surf. If you’ve been to, or seen a competition in person or online the pros make it look easy – so much there doesn’t appear to be much effort in riding a wave or pipe back to shore.
Before the surfer stands on atop the first wave they’ve got to leave the shore, and paddle out. For the next 60 – 100 yards, they are poking the board’s nose and themselves (“punching”) through the breakers, and smaller waves until they get to a place where they wait and watch for the next big moment on the water.
A couple of things I thought of recently relating to leaning into uncomfortable situations (ones I would tend to avoid) and unpleasant circumstances, I wanted to share. Maybe with someone who tends to ignore or avoid moments of discomfort.
The first step is to leave the shore, the uncomfortable place where we decide to flee or face what’s been handed to us by life, the universe, our boss, our parents, or the car that just nearly ran us off the road. With many things recently I have decided to leave the shore and paddle out into a series of breakers, or a place of discomfort. As an INTJ I’m perfectly suited to avoiding these things, and in the aftermath measuring, refining, and defining how to avoid them in the future – a reaction, or just being a bit more reactive and passive to what I need to reckon with.
The initial response is not to paddle out and punch through the wave about to cause some measure of reaction. Once you start to paddle out, the breakers are small. Problems seem much larger than they actually are most times but while you’re paddling out head on and into the first breaker, you’ll have a wide lens to it for what it actually is – maybe smaller or exactly what you expected. When you punch through an actual breaker you’ll hear the water rush, feel the force of it all over you – in the silence of the ocean. Most times we feel adversity this deep in our being.
When you come out of the other side – one thing remains true, it wasn’t permanent, it was temporary. What we believe in our minds to be storm surge sized wave, wasn’t – it was just a breaker.
Personally, I have had to remain inside the wave until I was ready to come out of the other side – YMMV from mine but what does deserve consideration are a two things I now spend more thought on. The circumstance’s true size and weight, and the outcome I would prefer. From there, I try to find the steps to manage the outcome and then put my energy and focus into the outcome – not the circumstance.
As you paddle out further and punch through the small ones, you’ll experience some larger ones. You’ll manage those the same way you found to manage the many smaller ones – this is called “practice”. You’re practicing the idea you understand the gravity of a situation and the fact it’s temporary. And while you’re practicing you’ll punch through larger breakers, and waves until you’re sitting on the water watching the next wave you want to ride. Yes, the wave you want to ride. At this stage you’re cherrypicking the wave you want to ride because not all things need to be dealt with by you. You don’t need to own them or bring them into your life unless you choose to. Or to use the current analogy, you don’t need to punch through someone else’s breaker(s).
The endgame here is to ride the wave after you’ve punched through many smaller breakers and waves, back to shore. The place you first left, and felt most comfortable. After a day, week, or month of punching through breakers and waves you’re hopefully more prepared and balanced to manage larger waves than you thought you were capable of riding.
The work involved with paddling out can be heavy and difficult. The ride back to the shore can be effortless and more rewarding when you’ve conquered the wave by being on top of it, instead of having to punch through it.