The Secret to Surfing

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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I’m falling, plunging headlong into salt water. I surface sputtering and grabbing for my surfboard before it clobbers me on the head. As I hoist onto the board for the long paddle back out, I glimpse my husband coasting by: the consummate surfer, relaxed, confident . . . upright. Suddenly learning to surf at age 40 looks less bold, more senile. Blame advancing age for my failing to remember all the steps necessary from prone on the board to riding a wave.

“What am I doing wrong?” I ask my instructor.

“You’re falling off,” he says. Now he’s a comedian.

A technique review reveals I’m not readjusting my stance once I’m upright. For balance, both feet must point in the same direction, a correction made in motion. In a flash, I realize I keep my feet in the first position because it’s familiar: like “warrior” pose in yoga. So maybe I’m not quite senile, just a creature of habit. As the next wave approaches, I relax and stand. A quick shift of my feet and I’m surfing. I feel impossibly tall, sailing effortlessly over the water.

Back home, life’s pace grows busier. All my career pursuits clamor for the same slice of time. I coach my clients toward life balance yet look increasingly like a poster child for what not to do. With so much to focus on, I’m losing effectiveness. I yearn for trade winds and leisurely lunches. I imagine myself a practiced surfer, an island girl. My husband and I consider moving. I wonder if it’s time for professional help.

I tell my sister about my escapist fantasies. She listens patiently as I bemoan cutting back on any of the passions in my career. Am I willing to lay everything before God and let Him choose what needs to go, she asks? The knot in my stomach betrays my answer. I’ve worked hard to get here—what would I have to give up? I’m excited about a new venture—what if it makes the chopping block? Like an adolescent willing to listen but dreading the answer, I finally ask God to guide me.

And in His gentleness, God asks for no grand gesture. No dramatic career change. Just some reflection on why I stay too busy; some letting go of familiar things I’ve outgrown; a little more willingness to make adjustments in motion; and most important, a decision to focus, to point both feet in the same direction.

Since then, I’ve missed a few waves that came my way. But I fall less, and the waves I catch are a much better ride.

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