A single step
I don’t have the best reputation as an athlete when it comes to my wife.
She has seen me attempt to learn to ski and fail, and she has seen me attempt to snorkel and fail. So it was natural that she was curious about my first attempt to learn surfing.
I don’t remember her exact question, but it was something along the lines of this:
“Was it a total failure?”
Actually, no. It was a slow start, to be sure, but there was nothing about it that made me not want to keep trying and ultimately succeed.
I drove down the coast to La Jolla this morning with the promise of a free surfing lesson from a pretty good teacher. My brother-in-law Marty Malin grew up in Southern California and has been surfing for about 35 years. Just to let you know how dedicated he is, he lives on the East Coast now and actually surfs in Massachusetts.
Well, he surfs in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the Massachusetts coast.
We went to the beach today, and as it turned out, the time of day was less than ideal for accomplishing too much. The tide was coming in, and conditions were kind of choppy. Mostly I learned to paddle out, and then how to ride waves in on my belly and manage to keep from falling off the board.
A false start
As you can see from this photo, that took a while to learn.
The person you can see in the picture is actually Marty, who was standing near the board. I believe I’m somewhere under the board in the Pacific Ocean.
I think that was the moment at which the little voice of negativity in my head spoke up.
Mike, you’re 60 years old. What the heck are you doing?
Trying again was what I was doing. Surfing is something that has fascinated me pretty much all my life, and if it’s ironic that I’m finally trying to do it during my final summer in California, so be it. The desire to learn to surf is one of the reasons I have lost 75 pounds this summer and am working with the goal of losing another 25 before I stop.
Shortly after that ducking, I started getting a little better at managing to stay on the board on the way in. I rode one wave all the way in, actually scraping my right forearm on the beach and scraping up Marty’s longboard.
Hey, he didn’t tell me to hop off when I got in that close.
Catching a wave (sort of)
But a little later in the day, just before we finished up, I managed to catch one wave perfectly and zoomed in toward the beach on my belly. I was amazed at how fast I was going, and pleased that I managed to keep my balance and stay on.
I could only imagine how great it would have felt to stand up and ride the wave in, but that will come.
Was it a total failure?
Not at all, and I’m not at all discouraged. I’m looking forward to my next time out there, maybe as soon as next week.
I’ve got a long way to go, but the point is going to come at which I’ll stand up on the board and stay standing.
A journey of a thousand waves begins with a single stand.
Or something like that.