Thursday, August 29, 2013

The elusive art of creative energy

People usually think that writers, painters, musicians and artists of every genre just wake up from their ‘creative-mess’ beds each morning and are somehow hit with a wave of inspiring and life-changing content that has the potential to rock this world…
Well… in short… it’s true.

We wake up every day, like the rest of you, scrambling to the somewhat ‘re-designed’ kitchen for our coffee fix and any edible and nutritiously-brain-filling thing we can get our hands on. We do the usual ‘read the paper’, or ‘turn on the TV’ while we’re consuming breakfast, but here is where it all changes; instead of being fed information, we see it, digest it and begin pondering how we can CREATE new content from the information we have just been hit with.  It’s kind of a ruminative, melting pot process. Any information is not merely facts and figures, but abstract, colour, imagination, rainbows and butterflies. It kind of disintegrates from what it is, and jumps and spirals into what it can BECOME…

"What you are is what you have been. What you'll be is what you do now.” Gautama Buddha

Powerful words. Creative energy is not passively receiving content and then transforming it. The transformation begins before any content is received. You yourself, have to own the perception of constant transformation; that any piece of content, information, data, figure, or image can be, signify and look like anything before it is presented. Ever see those optical illusion tricks? How is it that some people can pick up on the various nuances the image entails while others can only see, well the very obvious?

Obvious, standard, normal, basic is exactly the kind of boring rhetoric creative people don’t play with. But hey, we’ll even make boring interesting. Obvious the new dubious. Normal the next crazy. Take basic to a whole new level. It’s what we do. It’s how we think, before we think.

And yes, we feel the waves of inspiration hit some days. Sometimes many days. It’s like all the planets align, we have all our ducks lined up in a row, and life for that brief moment feels like a slow motion music video, executed to flawless perfection. Or it feels like “The Devil wears Prada” movie; you’re Miranda Priestley and everything has been prepped, preened, screened and impeccably aligned before you hit your first scorching hot cup of Starbucks.

So yes creative energy can feel like those days. It’s a tune you can’t get out of your head and can’t help but hum, it’s the colours that bestow themselves on the canvas in a masterpiece fashion, it’s the array of synonyms, similies, metaphors and puns, that are spilling onto my page right now. It’s veritable magic when it strikes, a high-like rush that keeps on elevating you to dizzying heights. And your pen, mic or paintbrush can’t work fast enough.

It’s difficult to “unleash” this energy on demand, and that’s what’s so precious about it. It’s like an orgasm; it’s coming and you better enjoy it!
And when the creative energy is just not there, it’s gone, there is nothing you can do. Waiting doesn’t work, immersing yourself in ‘creative pursuits’ doesn’t work, ignoring the fact doesn’t work. You just need to commence being a mere mortal again, with your day to day routine, and coffee fix, until the “better than coffee” buzz strikes again. Because creativity is better than coffee, or at best, it’s out-of this-world version of it.

I believe any ‘mere mortal’ can get into the creative groove that many of us live by on a daily basis. It’s simple. Don’t just think outside the box, actually… forget the box before you’re put into one.
Look at things differently and what you see will change. And what you create will be inspired.

Written by ©Copyright Patricia Jolanta Pahl on 29th August 2013 at 9.11am

Monday, May 13, 2013

Living (and loving) the dream

Fresh off my holiday from the Maldives (and what better place to get re-inspired!), I opened the good-old Facebook to find an outpouring of fresh and inspiring energy. I’m talking about friends who are literally LIVING their dream, bit by bit, every single day. One friend has been globe-hopping for years, and is currently working for 6 months in a hostel in the Dominican Republic. Every day she “tires” us with pictures of beautiful sunsets, crystal blue water and her own self looking very tanned in a bikini. Then I have my other friend, a Buddhist and keen photographer, who has been enthusiastically pursuing his hobby of photography with an urge to contribute to society, by selling photos from his travels to charity. I recently looked on his website Zenwave, and his appeal is steadily growing, with new followers inspired by the cause daily!

Such amazing, raw, creative energy to come back to! Which is why I firmly and whole-heartedly believe that ‘success leaves clues’. Like Hansel and Gretel leaving breadcrumbs in the woods, those who achieve their inner longings, dreams and desires, leave a trail of clues to the path of their success.

Success has been defined as many things; and I will simply put it this way – it’s getting what you want. It’s looking deep inside yourself, seeing the things you want to accomplish, and moving steadfastly towards your goal. Of course, from point A to B, there are many obstacles and diversions along the way, but success really is as simple as realising that which you want. What you want can change, but the approach should never change:


I’ve been reading a very interesting book recently, by Neale Donald Walsch called “Conversations with God”. The book comes in three parts, but the main premise behind it is this:

1.       Thoughts are creative.
2.       Fear attracts like energy.
3.       Love is all there is.

Very simple and powerful stuff. If you can be patient enough, to really invest in your thoughts and hold the thought you wish to act upon, you can shortly start to see some pretty big changes in your life. The kind of changes which are exactly as you want. What we constantly think about is our reality, and anyone from a sports star to an artist has had millions of thoughts they then turned into a winning game or a work of art.
Then comes the fear. We are all human, and naturally doubt our abilities. But we have to doubt, so we can trust. Once you realise where the power of fear can lead you, contrasted with where the power of trust and positive energy can, you can make better choices. All life is a choice, and the most inspirational people consistently make the choices which produce what they want. Where it is a choice between being positive or negative, working hard or working average, dreaming bigger or staying the same, we all have a choice. Inspirational and successful people make their choices work to their advantage. In fact, a truly successful person, doesn’t make any other choice than that towards continually fulfilling their dreams and desires. These people never worry about the money, time, effort they need to expend, because fulfilling their dreams is success within itself.

And lastly, love is all there is. That’s the first and the last of it actually. All dreams begin with a love for what you do, for what you want, for what you create, and upon fulfilment you receive love once again. That is why love is all there is. All big dreamers love what they do, and invest their love, into creating more love. And if the world needs anything, it’s more love.

Imagine how your world would look if you could love in love all day, every day? Be in love with your life, all day, every day? It is hard to miss the inevitable trail of happiness that all successful people leave behind. The key is not to blindly follow the same trial, but to believe that with the enthusiasm, love and your own unique talent, you can blaze a trail of your own, which can inspire others.

To my good friends, Mark and Agnieszka, you’re the ones inspiring me at the moment! Thank you for your love and dedication to fulfilling your own Personal Legends!

Copyright © Written by SoulSurfer 13 May 2013 at 3.07pm

Friday, January 11, 2013

The energy shift of 2013; balancing of energy

Although much was said about December 21, 2012, I believe all of us are still alive and most of us well. The imminent end to the world the Mayans predicted through their calendar 5,000 years ago, seemed to survive or be postponed, at least for the last 3 weeks.
Other sources of the great change of 2012, explain that the year 2012 was a shift and rebalancing of energy. The masculine and feminine energies are said to have realigned and balanced out, ending roughly 5,000 years of male dominated energy. A calmer, more loving, nurturing, receptive and respecting force is said to have been ushered in gradually over the last year, culminating at the end of the year in a decisive change, for the better perhaps.
Undoubtedly, anywhere there is balance and harmony, the greatest sources of energy, wellbeing and good can originate. It is understandable that any change brings about confusion and anxiety, but having settled into the first few weeks of this year, this year feels like the peace and calm we have been searching for a long time. The long awaited Zen. Balancing of ying and yang energies. Despite the current peaceful feeling, I wonder myself too, how long will it last, how it will evolve and what new heightened experiences it will bring to us?

So far, I have come to realise the importance of being calm and not worrying about the future. The importance of staying present, focused, full of love, compassion, harmony and trust. Just trust in the future. It is very easy to daydream for the future and reminisce on the past. To use both to try to make sense of the present, a present which is perfect in itself. At any time, we are just where we are meant to be. This is a lesson I have learnt repeatedly last year: every time I wanted to be decisive and make a decision based on fear, the unknown, anxiety or pain, I was guided to see it through, live in the present. The answer, the true answer, would appear unknowingly, and only now when I look back, I can see my evolution occurred only when I was willing to confront those current ‘uncomfortable’ feelings. To feel them, think about them and deal with them. And then LET THEM GO. Ultimately, what ensued over last year, was a constant exercise in trust and accepting the present moment. What has eventuated is a new outlook to match the new incoming energy of last year.

This year, 2013, carries a refreshed and renewed vibe; one that needs to be absorbed and channelled to create greater good, appreciation, love, compassion, acceptance and harmony among all. If we all live in the present, aim to focus our mind on positive and productive thoughts and then ACT, we can create a world continually brimming with and carrying forward the product of our common good.

Written by Copyright © SoulSurfer 11 January 2013 at 1.23pm

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making it meaningful

"Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend -- or a meaningful day."
~Dalai Lama~
I arrived at work a little grumpy today, after having missed a ferry, then running to a bus, then missing a train, and finally arriving late at work. I was grumpy, because I was missing my car, which is in repair and would take me to work in lightning speed. Not that I don’t like public transport, but for the hours I work, a car is essential and gives me 30 minutes more sleep in the morning.

I arrived at work, tuned into my phone which has a handy ‘Buddhist quotes’ app, and read the above quote by Dalai Lama. Suddenly I realised something; why am I complaining? Apart from the slight inconvenience of taking 90 minutes to get to work (instead of 30), nothing is wrong.
That’s it, nothing is wrong.

The key in this quote for me was “…make it meaningful”. No matter what is happening in life, just make it meaningful. This quote also hinges on the subject of impermanence. Nothing stays the same, everything changes. New friends become old friends, new days become old days, so we just have to roll with what we have and ‘make it meaningful’.
Honestly, I snapped out of my bad mood straight away. I sat down and decided to make everything I did that day meaningful. From the emails I wrote to customers, to the computer work I did, to my interactions with others. Meaningful. Meaningful, so that if I were to look back on any space of time today, I could say there would be nothing I could have done better. Meaningful, means you have invested yourself truly in what you do, and the action, thought, feeling or interaction is genuine and uniquely you. If we consider meaningful friendships or meaningful events, they have inspired us in some way, so as to create the person we are today. Routine, problems, stress and ignorance dim the ‘meaningfulness’ of life, so that we begin to perceive everyday as the same. As a famous quote from Paulo Coelho goes:

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

Meaningfulness, is perceiving that each day is different; that even though the sun rises each morning, we through our choice have the power to make each day different. Perception is everything. What we infuse our minds with, we begin to see in our surroundings. By beginning the day with a commitment to creating meaningfulness we can create the correct thought, which in turn creates the correct reality around us.
Reality is a reflection of our mind; how meaningful our reality is depends on how meaningful our perception is.

Copyright © SoulSurfer 11 December 2012 at 2.13pm

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

As I began to love myself

Beyond amazing is this poem… at 70 years of age to have such a thorough understanding and sentimental feeling for everything life has brought you, taught you and shown you…
My hat goes off to you Mr Chaplin!

As I Began to Love Myself – Self Love Poem by Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time
was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this
person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens
at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in
my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for
my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew
me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude
a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since
I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry
about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING
is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my
mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this
connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing
new worlds are born.

Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Alo’ha: breathing the present magic of life

An amazing thing happens every time I go surfing… I rediscover the magic of life. I feel the magic of life. I live the magic of life. Surfing breathes such a strong and refreshing breath of life into my being, that it is impossible not to emerge a little dizzy and dazed, but full of this new energy of rebirth. It’s uplifting and wonderful. It truly is Alo’ha, which in Hawaiian literally means: “the breath of life”.

In his latest book ‘Aleph’, Paulo Coelho speaks of the magic of life being the present. Time, as not being measurable but essentially purely livable. The concept of ‘living time’:

“In magic - and in life - there is only the present moment, the now. You can't measure time the way you measure the distance between two points. 'Time' doesn't pass. We human beings have enormous difficulty in focusing on the present; we're always thinking about what we did, about how we could have done it better, about the consequences of our actions, and about why we didn't act as we should have. Or else we think about the future, about what we're going to do tomorrow, what precautions we should take, what dangers await us around the next corner, how to avoid what we don't want and how to get what we have always dreamed of.”

An amazing concept. That we humans waste so much time in the past and future that we do not live in the present. This was brought to my attention through two things. The instant ‘in the moment’ sensation I get from surfing and also by contemplating on how much time we spend not pursuing our dreams and goals.

Imagine you live in a room where on the floor there is a huge blank canvas. The canvas represents your hopes and dreams, things that you need to put some effort, energy and enthusiasm to work on, but through procrastination, fear and lack of organisation you fail to undertake. You leave the canvas bare, you walk around it, cover it, move it around the room, on a daily basis, but fail to get started on it. You fail to invest time in your own masterpiece. Time of course being the present moment.

The blank canvas of the room, is the purpose of our souls. A beautiful, unique canvas, is the outward manifestation that our souls work to fulfill their purpose. It can be just started or complete, but it is also a motivation and inspiration for others to complete the work of their own lives. But, the trick is, we wait for the right time and moment to begin and work on our masterpiece. We contribute our time and energy to meaningless tasks that in turn, do not satisy or inspire, or make us really live the magic of life.

Similarly, in surfing, you have a moment to catch a wave, or let it pass. Take a chance, and go somewhere new, or be stuck on an ocean, floating. My board is my canvas, the ocean, endless opportunity of life.
Or as the Hawaiians say: “Ku Hoe He’e Nalu” – stand up, paddle, surf. In my personal, spiritual interpretation it looks a little like: ‘stand tall, work hard, catch your dream’. I think we all need to experience the magic of Alo’ha (living in the present) so we can fulfill our soul’s purpose and create experience of happiness.

Copyright © SoulSurfer 26 November 2012 at 11.15am

Monday, October 29, 2012

There is still so much more to give…

The old analogy is that life is about give and take. And frankly, it is. It is the law of nature for there to be perfect harmony; two equal and opposite forces working together, constantly and each at its own time.
In society, we have been taught this principal of equality; what we give, we should receive back. That we should not give any more when he have nothing to give, or no strength to give. Or we should not give any more because we are not receiving.
But what about the quality of what it is we give? If we give a hug, should we receive the equal? If we love someone, are we right to expect the same love in return? Do we only give as much as we want to return?  Society is very much enthralled in the concept of quantity and not quality. We want ‘value for money’, a ‘return on our investment’, a ‘bang for our buck’. This is why we are only concerned with what we will receive for our trouble, and not the quality of what we are giving.

Two ideas come into play here. Living in the present and giving in the present. If we are concerned with what we will get, we concern ourselves with future outcomes that for some elusive reasons may or may not happen. We are inhibiting the giving, because we are already measuring the worth of our future return. To give and expect equal on return, is to shape your giving so as to try and influence the outcome. It is to be quantitative and not qualitative.
To be giving in the present, we must concern ourselves with what quality we wish to offer for the world, from the goodness of our hearts and not from the emptiness we wish to fill upon return. To give and give and give, and feel that we can keep on giving, is a true blessing. To be an endless wellspring of giving, offering, contribution with the pure attitude of non-attachment is a virtue that needs to be practised and developed daily.
It is in this way that the law of nature works. To be so concerned with giving in a non-attached way as to almost forget about receiving, is not naïve or wearying; it is truly gratifying. Because for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

What I have personally noticed, is when we are not receiving what we want, when we are so focused on the ‘getting’ that we adjust the ‘giving’, it is purely because we are not giving quality. We acknowledge the lack we feel in ourselves, and dwell on it, rather than attempting to give more to the experience. A concept of Zen teacher John Daido Loori is if we practise non-attachment, we increase and experience unity. Unity is to focus on heightening experience and not to get too involved in the processes of how, when, what and why.

My goal and focus for the coming months is to focus on what I can give and offer to my experiences and in turn, through quality giving what unity I can create.

Copyright ©SoulSurfer 29 October 2012 at 10.26am

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life in motion

Probably about two years ago, my good friend Mark and I were musing about life and love, and Buddhism, and inevitably reached the topic of attachment. Mark mentioned that, in a nutshell, Buddhism teaches non-attachment; the idea that we have to get rid of the desire to possess things, to attach ourselves to things externally, as this produces discord and addiction. The ideal way of thinking about this can be summed up in the following quote by Zen teacher John Daido Loori:

"[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, nonattachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"

An amazing concept, but quite a feat to comprehend and employ in real life. From the moment we are born, we survive on the concept of attachment. It is a necessity for a child to depend on their mother for food, warmth, comfort. As we grow older, attachment is a means of carving out our world, being led by example, and forging our own path from the comfort and safety of a trusted source. Attachment is a means of survival.

But as we grow older, we may find attachment to be somewhat troublesome and addicting. First love, first heart break; first problems, first vices. Sometimes attachment becomes the kind that inhibits us from continuing on the path and expanding our world and consciousness; moving forward…

Love is the best example of this. How can a person NOT attach themself to the person they love? How can we live a seemingly emotionless, unattached existence from someone who is so close, someone who we exchange feelings and emotions with continually?
The sheer exchange of emotions plants memories, dreams, hopes and expectations in our minds and hearts. And these linger, especially in trying times, when these no longer match the current emotion experienced. Furthermore, discord occurs when the feelings experienced by two people no longer match, and therefore these dreams, hopes and expectations are not forged. This is where the attachment occurs. Emotions come and go, but the outcomes attached to these can stick around for a long time. A person does not get attached to emotions, they get attached to the predicted outcome of these emotions.

So knowing this how is it possible to live life unattached, yet happy and unified with others? Take a stroll down by the sea on a good surf day. There will be moments when surfers sit on their boards and wait for the waves to roll in, and there will be times they are catching each wave as it comes. What you will notice, every day, is that high or low tide, the waves never stop. Whether you experience the surf to be good or bad, is a subjective opinion. But the waves never stop, there is constant motion. That is the law of nature, of the sea.
Buddha taught the same principal: to live life in harmony and accept life as it is. To accept that life has ebb and flow, things which come and which go, things that are experienced as joys, and others that are experienced as troubles.
In accepting the unity, the perfection of the entire experience of life, we become non-attached. Because there is nothing to attach to, the experience is in us, and we are the experience. We live life in flow, in motion, in harmony; aware of the dichotomy, yet appreciating the perfection of life as it is.  

Copyright © SoulSurfer 26 October 2012 at 10.42am

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Holidays are always that amazing time for complete rest and abandon. As soon as I write this, many tropical getaways come to mind. Recently I was watching a movie with Robert Machado, where he delves into such a tropical abandon. Away from the world of competitive surfing, he can focus solely on what he loves the most. The more he distances himself from others, from civilisation, the more he believes he is finally at peace and in full focus. But ultimately he comes to the realisation that we do need others to feel in contact with our lives.


I’d say holidays, or some form of rest and relaxation are crucial to each and every person. An amazing quote springs to mind straight away:

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Life without holidays, becomes such a drudgery, a conglomerate of similar days, moods, feelings and therefore outcomes. I believe we always need to be refreshed and refocused to go after our goals and dreams. This is what living, and not merely breathing is about. It’s easy to simply exist, to fall into the monotony of life, to see each day in the same shade, and believe that repeating the same thing over and over gets us somewhere else in life. But it’s harder (and more rewarding) to push beyond the boundaries of pure existence, check our current state against that of our dreams, and aim to make that connection to get there. Every day, in every way.
Obviously to feel a dream is worth doing, you need to be inspired. But inspiration is like a bird in the hand, it flies away too quickly. If you pursue it too fervently, it simply escapes you. But if you take the time to attract it, make room for it in your life, it appears very quickly to aid and guide you. Holidays, allow you to feel wonder, awe, amazement – all feelings which attract inspiration. Holidays are almost a moment taken out of time and existence, when only inspiration and love conquer. However holidays, like birds and inspiration, fly away too quickly too. Inspiration is just the spark that provides the flame for the realisation of dreams.
Daily attention to dreams and goals, continually taking time to be inspired, keeps the flame alive. Paulo Coelho says:

“One day you will wake up, and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”

We need to put a sense of urgency on our dreams. If you are not living YOUR life, than who is? If you are not taking that holiday you always wanted, than who is? If you could be a better person for yourself and others, than what is stopping you?

Everyone needs to take time out to find their own “tropical getaway”, from which they can emerge refreshed and revitalised towards life. We are not merely breathing, we are living a dream of our own… It’s always time to get reconnected and inspired.

Do it now.

SoulSurfer © 12th September 2012 at 3.56pm. Photo by Patricia Pahl. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jumping back into it...

The most beautiful way I have ever heard someone describe surfing is Andy Irons. "It's the closest thing you can feel to being kissed by God,"

For real. I cannot imagine a moment in time you could be closer to heaven than that. The culminating moment in time when all manner of opposing forces, physical, spatial and spiritual come together and just work. Actually, you cannot take the spirit out of surfing. You can take it out of the surfer, but not out of surfing.

I guess surfing for me is a spiritual haven, a reconnection to the true life force. I have subtle felt this void in my life, especially the last few weeks. Just stepping out and seeing the waves crash, imagining the endless opportunities of just jumping on that board, and paddling out, has spurred something new in me. Definitely new. Kind of a new flame in me, that once I hit the swells, will turn into a fire. A fire burning and propelling me forward. I have been on hiatus long enough, used every common excuse to avoid putting on the wetsuit and paddling out.

Life can get stagnant when you stop doing the things you love. You have nothing to differentiate you, to propel you forward where others will give up. It’s all about lighting that fire from within, having that constant relay between physical and spiritual. In fact, it’s that connection which is the pulse of life. You need to keep the energy, enthusiasm, drive and love pumping, from mind to body, body to mind. Once you stop the heartbeat of your life, all else starts to fail.

Surfing has been something that plugs me in, that connects me to my life. Like the moment you plunge into a body of cool water on a hot summer’s day, feeling that initial tingling, excitement, refreshment and cleansing; instantly your senses become heightened to new, extraordinary levels, and the experience renews you. That is surfing for me every time. Your life can kind of take you beyond its expectations if you go with the flow. If you let go, release, and allow yourself to connect with the divine energy.

This has kind of been the prominent theme of my life these past few weeks. And I cannot wait to embody this experience, and dive into the surf once again…

Copyright © SoulSurfer 23 July 2012 at 12.22pm

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Be (with) someone who makes you happy.

I read this quote this morning, and it has really stuck with me for the last few hours. I guess an explosion of creative and positive energy originated from this quote, and I am happy to write the following…

I have noticed recently the depressing ‘reality’ of everyday life. Stay with me here, because I assure you this post is not at all depressing, as well as the ‘reality’ I describe not all that real.

Life confines us and boxes us in to certain rules, regulations, conventions, ways of being. We follow these and hope they will lead us to a happy, stable, and foreseeable future. And for the most part this works. But to be honest, we get so lost in the routine of our lives, that we lose touch with our souls and our heart’s desires. Maybe this comes with age, but just one look at the state of our world, and especially the level of enthusiasm and positivity of our young generations, and we can see that their view of their own lives is not emanating from a place of hope and happiness.

At this time, countless “how to be happy and rich and successful” books spring to mind, all with apparently tried and tested formulas on how to live life to the dot to ensure happiness. But as my partner accurately pointed out, happiness does not come from things, people or places, it comes from within ourselves. Only we can choose to connect to our souls, listen to our hearts and really follow in that direction.

And so we are not living in a reality.

Paulo Coelho accurately described the process of killing our dreams:

“When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.
We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.”

I think this accurately describes the state of most people’s lives. They put off following their dreams, as if following them would be a source of shame or futility. It’s not. Life is living your dream. Just as no two fingerprints are alike, no two people’s lives are the same. Everyone has a purpose, a goal, something to fulfil and contribute with open heart in this lifetime. Of course, we have the choice not to follow our paths, but the only person we hurt is ourselves.

Really connecting with ourselves and following our dreams is our privilege and right, and in turn it makes us truly happy. True happiness cannot exist if it has not originated firstly from within. And we cannot give happiness to others, if we are not happy ourselves first.

And so, be someone who makes you happy, so you can be with someone who makes you happy.

Written by Copyright © SoulSurfer 18th July 2012 at 11.10am

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Living the moment...

A moment is something that cannot be captured or contained...just enjoyed. This is the realisation I have come to over the past few weeks. Yet, despite their lack of tenacity, moments are important. Moments are pinnacle points in life; ones we look on with either pleasant reminiscence or hasty omission. They are like the peaks and troughs on a heart rate monitor; the defining moments in a life which otherwise would otherwise make it a boring and lifeless existence.

Opportunists say to “live in the moment” while realists say “moments are fleeting”. Which do we do? Do we just keep living for the next best moment, while proudly nursing the scares of the bad ones? Or do we long for stability, and normalisation, believing that both good and moments will come again, so life is really just mediocre?

I’ve done something new in the last few weeks, in just really trying to experience the feeling of each moment. Just really being there, observing without judgement, how I feel, what I do, where each moment takes me next. And trying to breath positive energy into every experience. Living the moment, having an experience, taking the good with the bad, and just being happy it happened.  

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" is my favourite Dr Seuss quote. How often we don’t realise things are not happening to us, we are making them happen. My best surfing analogy in this case would be an awesome moment I experienced two weeks ago. I went out for a paddle, struggled to paddle in for a while, until I aligned myself to just having fun, and stumbled on an awesome rip. A rip that literally pulled me in so fast, that I suddenly found myself being pulled out to sea; no paddling required. I had a few seconds to turn around and catch a monster of a wave that I had been struggling for so long. I guess all along I had been making it happen, but when the moment came, it was better, brighter and more awesome that I could imagine.

So I think how often, without positive energy and directional thinking, we miss the opportunities of moments coming along and sweeping us of our feet? How often do we miss out on capitalising on the moment due to sheer ignorance and boredom with life.

I finish with my favourite quote from Paulo Coelho about magic moments: The magic moment is the moment when a “yes” or a “no” can change our whole existence. Every day, we try to pretend that we do not see that moment, that it does not exist, that today is the same as yesterday and that tomorrow will be the same too.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Are We Becoming Blazé About Surfing?

When I was paddling out this afternoon, I noticed a tiny kid, maybe 4-5 years of age, raging away, and jumping on his board at the sight of every wave that came close. It was amazing to see this young boy pop up again within a matter of seconds, eagerly awaiting the next big wave. He was just fearless. He didn’t see the “Beach Closed” or “Strong current” signs. He didn’t feel the strength of the swell that would make him reconsider entering the water. He was just there; in passion and power for his beloved sport.
I remember when I first started surfing. Every small rise in the ocean was a wave to me, and every wave was worth catching and fighting for. High tide, low tide, I would proudly paddle out, stopping only once I had aligned myself with the line up. When I popped up and sat back on my board, and caught my breath, looking out into the distance, I finally felt I was a surfer. There were days when I would fight the white wash for hours, only just to realise I would not join the line up that day. Whatever weather, whatever tide or current, I was enthusiastic, ready and full of confidence. The main goal was to stand up and ride the waves. And I knew a lot of hard work would go into making that moment true.
I guess the knowledge of waves, as I deem it “waveology” kind of kills that enthusiasm for surfing. You learn where to surf out, avoiding the whitewash, and so align yourself quicker with the lineup. Then you learn to ‘feel’ when to stand up to get the most from your wave. Then one day ‘ta-da’ you put some pressure onto your back foot, and you find you’re turning (tricks!). One packed and crowded day on the waves, you discover two things; a massive wave coming towards you, and YOU are the first in the line up. This is your moment. This is your time to give it all that you got, knowing full well there are a dozen other surfers watching and judging you; wipeout or victory?

And so, it’s very easy to become a bit blazé about surfing. Avoiding the days when the surf is small, deciding ‘nahhh’ on in between days, and saying ‘hell no!!’ on dumpy or killer high days. You kind of set into your groove of what YOUR ideal wave is and wait for it. Just wait. As you know, surf waits for no one, and easily weeks can go past without your swell. Even when the conditions look right, we find reasons to say no to the call of the sea; big night, sore muscles, ‘not feeling it’, or a lot of paddle that’s not worth the surf. We get down to that one point in time; surfing becomes only the moment we stand on the board until we fall or get off. We shrink the whole experience to a few seconds. We even dream of someone jetskiing us out, paddling for us and even standing us up on the board, so we can enjoy those few moments of “yeeeehhaaaaa”...
Do we forget the experiences that have lead us to our moments of surfing glory?

So next time when you contemplate whether to surf or not, wetsuit or not, here or there…basically, next time you get about as annoying as a bride trying on her wedding gown…take a look at the young kid ploughing the surf. Or the happy tourists proudly posing with their rented Styrofoam boards and making exaggerated surfing gestures. Remember that once upon a time that was you, and feel that passion for surfing! Feel the wipeouts, the constant paddling, the disappointment of flat days, the rogue boards, the collisions… It’s all surfing. To compare surfing to sex, remember: the climax is as enjoyable as the foreplay, for without the foreplay it would not be!

Written by Copyright © SoulSurfer 31 March 2012 at 7.44pm

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pain – finding strength in the weakest point

Today my yoga teacher gave a very good take on pain and discomfort. She said that every one of in our practice will come across a pose that is difficult and makes us feel uncomfortable. We usually react in one of two ways; we give up on the pose, thinking it’s not worth it, or we try hard to distract ourselves from the pain we experience. Every pose in yoga is about softening (stretching) and strengthening at the same time. As our bodies vary so much, we all have our stronger and weaker points. The challenge of yoga is taking the time and patience to develop and strengthen the weaker points; the challenge being we can never master the art completely.
My teacher said: “Can you just stay in this pose, feeling the discomfort and pain, and choosing simply to observe, without reacting?”

It made me think a lot about life and our own “pains”; both physical and emotional. I had had pains in my joints for a long time, which I choose to ignore and distract myself from. Instead of being kind to my body, and working on strengthening and stretching the short muscles, I pretend the problem is not there, despite the fact my body is literally aching for a solution. Of course, going to yoga and stretching the affected areas is no easy task, but I try to stick with it and breathe life into every breath as I work towards ease. As the surrounding areas are strengthened, I start to feel I can enjoy the hectic sport schedule I had before.

But what about in life? Do we acknowledge and notice pain when it comes in our life? Or do we just recognise its effects and choose to ignore? Pain is a feeling that truly brings us right into our body and mind, and senses, makes us see things very clearly. Pain occurs when the surrounding areas of our life do not support our goal. When something has broken down, has become weak and no longer can cooperate. It’s like running a two-legged race with someone; if they fall, it’s terrible hard to drag them along with you and continue to the finish line.
I think a lot of times, pain signals to us that there will be something we have to soften or strengthen, and that the process won’t be easy. And sticking through a point of pain, without reacting to it, is difficult. And uncomfortable. Sometimes we just want to soldier on and “harden the f**k up”. But pain always has a purpose and is an opportunity to strengthen those weak areas and make them strong, so we are one with our purpose. Pain is an uncomfortable, yet valuable teacher.

The worst kind of pain is probably emotional. It can manifest into physical pain, but by then you probably have numbed out to it. There are times in life when we have to acknowledge our weakness; cry, get angry, feel depressed, shout out – just persevere through the weakest part, to feel a sense of freedom that comes from being strong enough to face it. Once you work through a weakness to its end, it can only become a point of strength. You have “been there, done that” and seen that even in the darkest hour, you made it through.

Yoga teachers always call their craft a ‘practice’ – because you always practice on strengthening and softening, and you need to be in continuous ‘practice’ to get better. Life does not stop after one painful event, and you never master it, as you cannot yoga. Life is about being in continuous practice to be a better and stronger you – pain is just that teacher.

Written by Copyright © SoulSurfer 24 March at 7.12pm

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dangerous swells - feel the fear and do it anyway?

When you say “I’m a surfer” or “I surf”, people immediately conjure up all the sensationally dangerous imagery that goes along with the sport...”Aren’t you afraid of the sharks?”, “I heard about this guy who got attacked...”, “Have you ever broken your board?”...etc...

I can’t imagine a sport that is more contact, and in which you are so at the mercy of Mother Nature than surfing. There is skating, but that’s you pushing yourself on a board. There is skiing or snowboarding, but it really is you who exerts the force, takes the first step to go down the mountain. You choose the slope, you choose the danger.

And yes, surfing is like that also. You can choose to surf the 1ft waves in Waikiki on a mild day and be 90% sure that nothing ‘dangerous’ will happen to you. You might also lie on your board doing nothing for a long time. But I’m talking about going out there when the current is well, forceful, when it has the power to really teach you something. And that is where I consider the danger of surfing to be – in the current.

People never think about the current. People see waves in terms of height and direction, not really understanding that it is what is happening under the water that matters. I went in the water over the weekend, only to practically fight to stay upright in knee deep water while I was holding my board by my side. The current was that strong. Not to mention dumpy and well painful if you got pounded. Hadn’t even surfed yet, and already I had 4 chances of putting a serious ding in my board.
It is currents like this, at which you throw yourself, that get you into trouble. The facade of small waves and OK surf, can immediately be put out of your mind when you are stuck in a rip you don’t want to be. I can imagine coming face to face with a shark is a horrendous experience, but on a more likely level, getting caught in rips is more deadly. There is nothing scarier than being in a whirlpool of a current, getting hit by waves from every angle, and not even having the opportunity to stay on your board to paddle in the right direction. Even more so, the silence of no waves at all to launch you back to shore safety, only a strong current holding you right where you are, despite furious paddling. Yes, being stuck at sea is no fun.

Surfing can mess you up in a psychological way. When you get into big waves and crazy currents, the only thing you want to do is establish control over board and swell, but the only option you have is to relinquish it. Sometimes you have to give up and go along with the swell, wherever it takes you. Sometimes you have to sit and wait for a wave, even though you’re all paddled out and want to touch sand.

I had the unfortunate encounters of being stuck in two helpless rips last month. I paddled and paddled and couldn’t get anywhere. And there was no one to help me either. When you do get out, the realisation of what has happened doesn’t hit you. No, it’s not until you go into the surf the next time that you become paralysed. Paralysed with flashbacks and fear, unable to go out to where you can’t feel the bottom. Surfing becomes impossible; without you on your board.

This weekend was the hardest for me. Just developing that trust that the swell will most times take me where I need to go, while knowing it can leave me stuck and helpless. As much as you train, pick the right boards, go out into the right conditions, you are always at the mercy of one of the greatest natural forces. But you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. The possibility of danger cannot eclipse the possibility of catching an amazing wave. Of going in an amazing barrel. Of feeling on top of the world. We gamble our lives every day with a force that cannot be tamed. We exploit it to our advantage. Because at the end of the day, it’s not sharks or other people’s boards that can kill us, it’s the same force that is benevolent to us on a really good ride.

If anything, we can only learn. The best surfer can get into a lot of trouble. But despite all the possible pitfalls, we live between fun and danger for the promise of the next Big Wave.

We feel the fear and do it anyway.

Content Copyright © SoulSurfer 13th February 2012 at 3.40pm