Do you ever feel overwhelmed, out of control, unable to make simple decisions, grasping to control anything because everything is out of spinning out of control in your life? Unfortunately, this feeling is not new to me. Being a husband, dad, business owner etc.. takes a ton of thought and energy. I sometimes feel like I suck equally at everything because I'm not good at anything. This is mainly because I lose my priorities. If you don't learn how to balance life or thoughts especially.. they can make you feel like they are smothering you. I wanted to share my thoughts on this as I think some of you may be able to relate.
When I feel like am trying to control everything and I'm overwhelmed its time for me to think small. I moved to Oklahoma 15 years ago from southern CA. I missed In-n-out, and "The Hat" pastrami sandwiches, the LA lifestyle, and that's about it.. or so I thought. I really missed surfing, and honestly, I didn't know why because I am a horrible surfer, in the surfing world anyways. After I received a hambord classic skateboard for my birthday I realized what it was.
Surfing made me feel small.
Not necessarily in stature, but in the priority in the world. And this is a wonderful thing. Imagine sitting on a little floating board and looking out in the vast ocean and you see nothing but horizon and water. All of a sudden this dolphin swims by you, and you pray it's not a shark. You realize that you're really insignificant to your surroundings as you spring your legs on top of your styrofoam board giving you a false sense of safety. As you look back towards the horizon, a rising mound of water comes creeping towards you from the abyss.
You turn and face the land and begin to paddle your little arms as fast as you can. The mound quickly lifts you up to the top so you are looking down on what seems like a two-story fall. You slowly try and stand up and... smash! You crash headfirst into the concrete feeling water and begin flipping and twisting underwater for what seems like minutes.
When you finally stop, you begin frantically swimming to the surface only to realize that you're now hitting the bottom with your hand. Well, "crap" (there's a good chance my mind says something else here) you say to yourself and begin swimming towards the surface. You finally break through the water a take a huge gasping breath and smash... The next wave breaks right on top of your head feeling like someone dropped a Volkswagen bug directly on you. That cycle can happen a few times if you happen to time it wonderfully like I seem to do.
Finally, you are close enough into shore to realize that it's time to stand up, slowly walk your exhausted body in the sand and eat a bologna and miracle whip sandwich (don't judge).
This was the defeated feeling I had towards surfing for around a year, until that day.. That wonderful day where I looked down on that water below, I quickly grabbed the sides of my board, sprung to my feet and raced down the face of that wave. As I was being pushed on top of that water, I saw the wall of that wave right next to me. I touched it slowly with my fingertips and I could just feel the beautiful massive power in it. At this time, I felt an indescribable deep joy, not only with the sense of accomplishment that I had; but just a contentment and happiness in life. I felt... "this is what it's for". Nothing else mattered, nor will ever matter. That moment was all that ever mattered. It is the feeling that I have always chased in life after that day.
A wave is this massive force that is uncontrollable to you as the surfer. It's just going to do what it does and you have no say in it. With a lot of practice, you finally get to a place where you can use its power for something useful to you. Surfing now is like a metaphor for life for me. The only way you get good at it is by going through it. You start out surfing in the whitewater (which is the wave after it has crashed and is going into the shore). Next, you attempt to paddle through the white water only to realize that you can't even make it passed the waves crashing against you. After you learn timing, navigating and technique there, you can start to begin to learn to surf. Then there's that ball game described above. You never get that day until you have gone through it all. You've gained strength, wisdom, failures, successes and a high ability to hold your breath.
Ever since that season in my life. That is my high that I will always chase. I realize that anything worth pursuing is going to be tough. I want to quit, I want to cuss, I am pissed half the time, but I realize that it's only a wave that I can't control, I just need to learn to ride it. I realize that the world is bigger than me, and my impact makes a significant difference to only a very few. However, those few will stick with me through everything and not get mad when I drop the ball. When I get overwhelmed, I make myself feel small. Now, I'll go ride my bike, or ride my skateboard "surfboard" because it reminds me that I can't control things, I just want to ride them out.