Let me start out by saying, I am not one of these people that believes that a surfboard can unlock the mysteries of the universe. I don’t say “dude” often enough to fit that category. Also, I have spent most of my life in landlocked areas like Colorado where the closest thing to “deep sea fishing” involves waders. Vast expanses where water is the only thing between me and, say, Japan kind of freak me out. But that did not stop me from learning a life lesson on a surfboard.
In the months leading up to our family vacation to Hawaii, I was working two jobs. One job, I loved. The other . . . well, if you’ve ever run across a server in a deli with a scowl on his face and about a gallon of mustard on his uniform, I’m sorry. And by the way, the ice-cream machine does not know when your cone is full so TURN IT OFF when you are done or I’M the one they will call to clean up YOUR MESS. I’m not bitter or anything.
Anyway, after a long day of cleaning up slowly melting towers of soft-serve, I enjoyed planning for my vacation. When I stumbled across paddle-boarding, I decided that I had to give it a try.
Paddle-boarding is like surfing, only the board is usually fatter (thus, more stable) and you have a paddle to, well, paddle. It is basically a cross between surfing and kayaking. Or, put another way, it is surfing for people who can’t surf. So you get to look cool without actually possessing any talent.
It took me about three nanoseconds on the board to realize there was some talent required. Namely, balance. Imagine trying to stand on an exercise ball. On a skating rink. With waves. Ok, maybe not that bad, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t long before I toppled from the board like a palm tree in a hurricane.
On top of that, my fear of the ocean was kicking in. I had this sense that Jaws or the Kraken was going to look at me on my board and see a skinny appetizer served up on a polyethylene platter.
One thing I had learned about paddle-boarding in my months of dreaming and research was that you didn’t have to stand. You could just paddle on your knees. And the thought crossed my mind that that would be a lot easier and a lot less stressful. And it is a well known fact that the Kraken will not eat a paddle-boarder unless he happens to fall off the board. So why stand up?
The answer was simple: because I had waited too long and looked forward to this too much to not do it right. I owed it to myself to do what I had set out to do. And that meant standing up on my board. So, I summoned up my courage and willpower and stood up. And fell in again.
But I kept trying. I was determined to get it right, and eventually, I did. And it was awesome. More than that, I wasn’t eaten when I fell in! Probably because the Kraken was rolling on the sea floor, laughing.
So what does this have to do with life lessons? What deep truth can you discover on a paddle-board? I have had many times in my life where I was afraid to try. In those moments, one of the things that kept me going was the sense that I needed to accomplish what I came for. I owed it to myself to do my best and to ignore my fears.
So there’s your life lesson. You cannot let fear stop you from—HOLY COW WAS THAT A TENTACLE?! SOMEBODY SEND A RESCUE CHOPPER!!