Thursday, December 29, 2011

Breaking the board...

It’s a surfer’s worst nightmare, especially if you only have one. It doesn’t matter if you snap it clean in two or get a few dings and cracks in it. Breaking a surfboard, getting a ding in any way, breaking the intricate and wholly perfect design of the thing that keeps you afloat on the waves is a downer. Especially if you only have one board. And you have an amazing swell raging in the water.

If you really like surfing, you connect with your board and depend on it on this reciprocal level. It becomes an extension of you, and riding on anything else seems like going backwards. If you learn on a board, you know it so well, what it can (and can’t) do on the waves, its points of strength and weakness. I know most surfers have a few different boards in their quiver, but when you have only one, breaking it can shoot your confidence.
For me, going out and seeing a 6-8ft swell only seemed like an amazing chance to go out and really put myself to the test. I know I had a waaay too big board and I know the waves were so dumpy and vicious, that not getting hurt would mean a cardboard box top would be the only appropriate thing to ride on. But I went out, got stirred around in the waves, and made it out from the dragging swell – but my board didn’t. The nose kind of got cracked and split. Not good.

This is my third ding, so I am past the point of trying to fix it. It’s a great board, but money wise, not worth repairing...again.

After being sad for a good couple of hours, and sitting on the beach to console myself, I realised something. Buying another board, something smaller that would propel and excel my surfing had been on my mind for quite a while. I just put my dream of getting the perfect surfboard, which was an extension of me, down to a sheer wish list. I thought I’d practise away on this board, and then contemplate a new board after Hawai’i. And I wanted something amazing, a love-at-first-sight thing!

After breaking this board for the third time (unlucky), I realised that all this superstition was telling me something; I wanted to improve, I had put my heart and soul mentally and spiritually into being better, and physically started to tone up and take care of myself in order to surf better, but I was still riding something that my newfound abilities had outgrown. I was still trying to be better on a board that was limiting me, purely because it was limited. A surfboard, unlike a human, does not change, grow and mould into something better. It serves the purpose of the wave, the water, the surfer, the ability and its structure. It cannot go beyond itself.

But we as surfers, can go beyond ourselves. As my mum put it ”It’s an expensive sport”, but one in which each board, surfer and wave are matched perfectly. A different swell, a different board, a different day, surfer and board are married together and set out into the sunrise or (sunset).

So sometimes we have to say goodbye to one thing, and move on to, in my case, smaller and faster. I had my problems with turning on my 7’6” Epoxy, and it was a nightmare to get through on the incoming waves. In a lot of ways, it was hindering my performance when I already had the ability to do better. If breaking the board wasn’t a sign I needed a change, a step forward, I don’t know what was. Sometimes life is trying to tell us we can do better, but we hold on and stay modest, thinking we need to be better ourselves. Sometimes you need a push, or a break in the right direction.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, two beautiful fibreglass boards were lying on my balcony. A 7’6” and a 7’2”. In the name of progression, I will go with the 7’2”. And she is the most beautiful board I have ever seen!

Written by SoulSurfer © 29 December 2012 at 12.21pm

Thursday, December 22, 2011

True identity; the strongest force

The strongest force in the Universe is a Human being living consistently with his identity.

Tony Robbins

I read this off a calendar page, which had pictures of lightning bolts, aptly, because these wise words hit me like a lightning bolt.

If you ever wonder why your favourite singer, band, surfer or inspirational person, is just so good at what they do, it’s usually because they have an absolute conviction and passion for their identity and who they are. Kelly Slater seeks a swell and just takes off after it. The wave inspires in him a strong link with his identity and who he is. Walking past a bookshop, you may see a new novel or book by your favourite author; something that catches your eye and is consistent with your beliefs and identity. The next thing you know, you are enthralled in prose, again reinforcing in thoughts and beliefs what you believe to be part of your identity.

So when I read this quote, I stopped and thought. I flipped the calendar to this page and earmarked it. It’s amazing when a thought, action, vision or word inspires something in you that causes you to react in a way that is consistent with who you are. For me, a thousand thoughts came to my head, and immediately thoughts of surfing, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paulo Coelho and travelling flooded my consciousness. I never thought about it, that being who you really are, that enforcing your true identity could be a source of permeating and radiating strength in the Universe. There is a saying that if everyone did what they really loved, the world would be a happier place.
I know that when I am in the moment of surfing, this amazing feeling comes over me. It’s both a feeling of challenge and release; it’s like the energy of an atom splitting. You need to put energy in to release new energy, and for me surfing does that every time. The incredible centeredness and connectedness with my true identity I feel after surfing is indescribable and well, inspiring. I feel with the energy I get from surfing I create a ripple through the Universe, sending out messages of strength, happiness, confidence and peace.

Yes, peace. Because to be at one with the world, we must first be grounded and peaceful with ourselves and our identity. In yoga, my teacher said that each pose teaches you both strength and softness at the same time. You need to use strength to achieve softness and grace in the pose. In the beginning you look for strength to be able to find conviction and consistency in what you are doing. And that is how you build character and identity; that is how you build up the ‘mental yoga’ of your life.

What an amazing concept...that being yourself and living in consistency with your true identity and soul is the strongest force in the Universe? So the message is clear; live at one with yourself and keep at it!

Copyright SoulSurfer © 22 December 2011 at 3.41pm

Monday, December 12, 2011

On your own wave of inspiration

Sometimes it’s nice to have a mentor. Someone who guides you, who inspires you, someone by whom you can grow and develop your strengths and dreams. The feeling is amazing; here you are on the brink of a new life, new successes, new horizons and opportunities, and you have someone to look back on and turn to for comfort in feelings of doubt or frustration. Just the sheer knowledge of looking back and knowing your mentor is there, is enough to propel you into a space of endless creativity and passion for your craft.

And you can get addicted. A mentor is like a crutch when you have a broken leg; it is there to help you walk, but not make you walk. As your talent grows and blossoms, it’s so easy to attribute everything to the source where it began. It’s so easy to believe that the spark that lit the fire, is the fire to begin with. And then when your mentor attempts to move out of your shadow and set you on your own path, it’s so easy to cling to them and believe that you are following their path. Suddenly the inspiration drops, and can only be ignited by that reassuring presence of your mentor.

And this state of dependency can last a long time. It’s amazing to meet people who really ignite something amazing, wonderful and hidden in you, and propel you to unbelievable heights and experiences. All of a sudden you discover new dimensions within yourself, a new energy, a new way of doing and seeing things. It can be intoxicating, addictive, exciting, fresh.

But success goes after talent, and not before it. Inspiration is the magical ingredient that links the two together. And it can be shocking when you’re source of inspiration and reassurance is no longer there to guide you forward. Now you are your own guide, and fuelled by your own successes, you are the driving force moving yourself forward.

One of the most amazing moments is when you discover that you have developed over time your own talent, success and inspiration. That you started off inspired by a foreign concept, and then become one with it and embodied it. At that moment, you get creative power to steer your own ship, so to speak. Or your own surfboard. Someone may have given you the spark, the inspiration, but it was because they believed in your talent and success before you did.
And now it’s your turn to do the same.

Written by SoulSurfer © 12 December 2011 at 9.55pm