I did not want to surf, at first. I saw my chance to surf when I was at the beach in Hawaii with my family this summer; and I turned it down many, many times. I watched for a long time from the beach while my husband, son, brother-in-law, and niece played on the surf boards. For what seemed like hours, they paddled out to wave after wave and then went through the surf positions trying to perfect their routine and timing.
I was not miserable watching from the beach. I was perfectly content. I liked my safety. I liked watching the four of them get out there and ride wave after wave. I learned from watching. But I had no intent on trying it myself, until something shifted within me and I abruptly changed my mind. I got up, walked to the surf shop across the street, added my name to the waiver and carried my rental gear into the water.
I’m a cautious girl- I like safe things. I like slow things. I’m not a thrill seeker.
And yet, I willingly get on a radio show and take live phone calls from strangers about their dreams and fire off a response.
When I did finally get out on the surf board, I popped up on a wave like it was nothing.
I’m 41 years old and what I am finally learning is that I’ll be ready when I’m ready. I can trust my own inner light switch. That quick about-face decision to surf came from a very unconscious, intuitive place.
Watching surfers on the ocean woke something up in me. When I think about it, it’s almost as if I was on that beach, in denial about wanting to be out there with them on the water. And that denial sent all of that yearning into my unconscious where, as I watched, the roots of learning grew in the dark beneath the soil, so to speak. Then, as soon as I had learned enough to feel relatively safe, that denial broke the surface and became desire. I ‘suddenly’ decided to try surfing.
It reminds me of another time when I was surprised to find myself performing quite well at what I consider a high risk situation. I was on an excursion with a group of people I did not know. We had all signed up for the high climb challenge, which was supposed to challenge your old narrative about yourself. We were supposed to climb a 40 foot pole and walk across a balance beam to the other side.
I watched nearly every other participant before it was my turn. Each one faced his/her own fears that they had brought along with them. It was emotional for most of them and a few did not finish the challenge. I spent so much of my time totally tuned into their battles, that, by the time I was standing at the bottom of the pole looking up, I had no fear of my own.
I had mentally prepared myself to face some big emotional or mental obstacle, just like the others, but instead, I was kind of disappointed that I hadn’t chosen a more difficult challenge excursion. I stood at the bottom of the pole and decided to do something ‘wild’ that would feel like a challenge to myself.
So, quite suddenly, my challenge became- do whatever you want. In a split second, I had realized that I was free from any expectation I had set for myself and that this was my time. I had paid for this experience and I had brought myself to this place of healing in order to do something out of the box. So, I yelled a curse word.
lol; that’s what felt risky to me y’all. I took a deep breath, it was my turn, everyone was watching me and rooting for me to face my fears (whatever they might be). So, I took a deep breath, and I said as loudly as I could, “My name is Pam and I am fucking climbing!”
Cursing was the wildest thing I could come up with in the moment.
Breaking the drama of mental and emotional challenge with a “fuck”. The climbing was easy and I went up as fast as I could. I felt my brain trying to exert it’s control over my body- it was trying to suggest that we still make this look hard so other people would feel understood- but I had just shattered any sense of meekness, so I just climbed. Easily. I even walked across the beam and did a little balance pose at the end- a little yoga just to show off.
And, just like writing does for me, as I share that story I’m reminded of a few more times when I suddenly broke free from my inner suppressor and walked right through fear into freedom. Risk taking, is NOT always good, but for a safety girl like me- I think I am beginning to trust when it shows up quite suddenly, launching me into something new. I think I am beginning to believe in myself, y’all.
And just like that my brain steps right in (even now) to try and suggest that we continue our polite meekness for the sake of those around me- but fuck it, I’m climbing.