In which a surfing lesson and a ground blizzard give me 3 tips for gliding through life:
“Look at the palm trees only — on the beach, where you want to go. You’re from the mountains, yes? You ski, yes? Yes, and you don’t look down at your skis do you. No of course you don’t. That would be disaster.”
One minute into my first surf lesson, Ricardo pin-points the reason for my perpetual beginning-intermediate skiing ability.
“Your head is big and heavy. If you look down, it moves out of line and sends you off balance. Look ahead at paradise — that’s why you’re here. Enjoy the view!”
Yes indeed, my head, my HUGE head, apparently — and all the thinking of which it is so fond — easily throws me off balance. So because I was really afraid AND really really wanted to do this thing, I ignored my head and followed his instructions. To. The. Letter. The resulting sensation of the world turning under me, moving me toward real paradise, was indescribable [although this kind of captures it — go figure!].
Later that day: after many successful rides, I couldn’t resist. I looked down at my board, and discovered Ricardo was right — about not only falling but also the shallow coral at that beach.
A year later: I finally applied his advice to skiing, but only because I had to. I COULDN’T see my skis.
Here in the land of dry snow and high winds, we get ground blizzards even when no snow’s falling. The wind picks up whatever white stuff’s already down and blows it to Nebraska. Sometimes the blizzard is 6-feet “deep” — truckers have perfect visibility up in their perches while sedans can’t see the next post on the edge of the highway. On Saturday, a 3-foot blizzard combined with flat light in such a way that I could not see the ground in front of me. It was scary.
So I gave up. And skiied the best ever.
Rather than seeing a little bump or clump of powder and thinking about what I should do to adjust for it, I let my body handle sensations as they arose. I looked out, across, and down the slope, enjoying the feeling of going there, of my feet under me, and of my body compressing and extending to absorb what was happening.
It’s the quality of visibility and fear and surrender that matter.
1. Keep the long-term goal in sight.
2. And you must LOVE what you’re headed for. That way, your fear is of the excited quality and not the icky quality. If something is scary AND feels icky/unwanted — do NOT do it. No matter what. Don’t give in to outside pressure.
3. The only “giving in” that’s joyous and affirming is surrender to the wisdom of your inner compass. I believe that if you keep yourself clear and clean, you can feel that guidance in your body, and that truth never lies. Trust it and you surf right into paradise. Order me a POG and I’ll meet you there!