Saturday, October 29, 2011

Being Zen; a time and place?

I was thinking about the concept of ‘being Zen’ over the last few days…the thought tossed around in my head after I read a bit of gossip about Jennifer Aniston. The article said that Jennifer used to be very ‘Zen’ about things and she just let things happen as they come, but since meeting her new love, Justin Theroux, she has become a go getter and started fiercely going after what she wants.

It made me think about the concept of ‘being Zen’…can we ‘be Zen’ all the time? Can we always just let whatever happens happen, and when it does, will it be what he had hoped and wished for? Does the decision to take a step back, and give in to the Universe automatically guarantee we will patiently receive our heart’s desire?

I was also thinking about this concept when I was surfing today. Can I ‘be Zen’ about surfing? I know surfing definitely makes me relaxed, chilled out, complete and happy, but can I ‘be Zen’ in my approach to surfing? Can I just paddle out to a spot, sit on my board and expect an awesome wave to take me on its crest? Yes, I admit a few times, when engrossed in conversation, I have found myself swept away and taken for a ride by some pretty amazing waves, but I guess I worked hard to get there. My surf instructor said that “paddling takes away 100% of your energy”, so even before you are gloriously riding a wave, you are pretty much going all out, paddling in desperation to get to the back. I think had it not been for my fierce, dedicated and at times exhausting paddling, many a time I would have not been able to do the visible part of surfing, known as riding waves.
There are often times all you are doing is paddling, not quite assured if you will get a ride back to shore. But you put the work in, you paddle hard. Sometimes the fruits of your labour occur after an exhausting 30 minutes of paddling and an awesome chance swell, or better yet, chasing down an amazing wave which is breaking some 10 metres from you.

So yes, surf is not all Zen, but a fierce and exciting challenge. If you take away the ‘fierce’ and just replace with Zen, you get a person stuck in a rip, occasionally riding 2 seconds on a wave that docks on the sand.
Similarly, just because you want to accept things as they come in life, does not mean it takes away your responsibility to go after things, when that is what needs to be down. Fierce and Zen can occupy the same room, and it is in fact often the feeling of fierceness that gives us the feeling of Zen. Working hard for something, going against the swell of life and ultimately succeeding, that is what gives inner peace and contentment. There is a time to fight, and a time to rest. There is a time to push on through with little encouragement, and there is a time to surrender and refocus. There is a time to paddle harder, and a time to move on to another spot.
You just have to know when the time is right. Timing is everything. We can never truly be Zen or fierce, we have to always balance back and forth. And timing is everything.
So for me, the only way of life is to live from one extreme to another, and among that find your own, unique, happy balance.

Written by SoulSurfer © 29 October 2011 at 6.56pm

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Steve Jobs – following his Personal Legend

I have never been one to admire the rich and powerful; although their success is undeniable, I question the means and motives for it. Where money is concerned, the motives are clear and the means well, always highly contentious and questionable.

The passing of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, made me appreciate the great loss of a man who followed his passion and Personal Legend. It takes only a Google search of ‘Steve Jobs quotes’, to see that Steve’s passion for innovation and ingenuity permeated through his mind, body and soul. I had no idea how much.

Firstly, let me explain Paulo Coelho’s concept of the ‘Personal Legend’. It first appeared in his international bestseller “The Alchemist”. Paulo describes it as:

“It’s [your Personal Legend] what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives…..”

After reading some of Jobs’ many quotes, it dawned on me that this incredible man lived out his Personal Legend every day. Some have described his enthusiasm and tireless energy for life as Zen-like, and I do agree. Below I present some of Steve’s quotes on life, which I believe exactly personify the image of living out the Personal Legend which Coelho portrayed in his prose:

His faith…

"You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever," he said. "This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

His perseverance…

"I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over. I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me," he said.

His reflections on setbacks…

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith."

His life credo…

"You've got to find what you love," he said. "That is as true for your work as it is for your lovers."
On the search of what you love…

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking."

On everyday happiness and fulfillment…

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

On his motivation…

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

One man. One Personal Legend fulfilled. I hope this can motivate and encourage everyone to live out their own Personal Legends. We all have a unique one, and the choice is truly ours to pursue it or let it pass.

Copyright © SoulSurfer 8 October 2011 at 9.29pm

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Live for the journey, not the destination

“I love nothing more, nothing gets me more passionate than tracking a swell and flying after it” – Kelly Slater

After 10 full months of surfing, after the many kilometers travelled, the many times squeezing into wetsuits, waxing boards, repairing dings, getting thrashed in every possible way by the rips and currents, I have come to appreciate how much the journey of surfing means to me.

As any amateur surfer you start off admiring all the barrels and flips of the pro surfers, eagerly devouring every surfing video in sheer awe and amazement. The will to be ‘that good’ is strong, but is the dedication always there?
I made it my goal to just keep surfing. No matter what happened, what I had to do, just keep surfing. There were days I either didn’t catch any waves, or when I couldn’t get past the waves due to the pure force of the swell pushing me outwards. But my goal was always one: keep surfing. No matter who I was to be, what kind of surfer I was to become, I would always keep surfing.

Of course, I always hoped and prayed that all my efforts would expand and propel me further than just paddling around. I still remember the weekend of April 4 2011, when I stumbled on some beautiful waves. Every keen surfer was out far into the surf, and there was a wave to be caught at ever interval. It was one big sweep after another, that you either floated through or it caught you and took you for a very long ride. I remember being out very very far from shore, a mixture of anxiety and excitement, waiting for this big swell to pick me up and sweep me onto my feet. I remember the wave passing through so many people, but it picked me up and before I knew it I was up on my board riding the wave towards shore for what seemed a blissful eternity!

One of the best memories of surfing as yet.

Of course then you have blah days when nothing special picks you up and there is no real swell to speak for. But I love every moment. Someone once said that life is made up of moments, and every one moment surfing has been Zen-like for me. I can credit surfing for making me like peaceful, serene, for giving me strength and conviction. And grace. There is nothing more graceful than to ride a wave to shore. To fight the tide, the wind, the wave mechanics, your own bodily limitations and just sail to shore.

Learning a new trick or achieving a new level in surfing is wonderful and makes the journey worthwhile, but it is in those small moments that you can truly appreciate how far you have come to achieve what you have achieved. Every wipeout, every bruise, every cut, every surfboard knock. But you never stop surfing. You pursue it more. Because, each time, you hope to move closer to the destination and cherish more each moment that drove you there.

Copyright SoulSurfer © 4 October 2011 at 6.44pm