While we were on vacation last summer, Alex and I took surfing lessons together. It was one of the "perks" offered by the rental company that we used - a free hour of lessons. When we signed up for it, I spoke with the instructor and he convinced me that we also should sign up for an extra hour for $20 each. So we did.
But, to explain this story, I have to back up a little bit.
On our way down to the beach, we decided to stop at an amusement park - King's Dominion - for the day. We had a lot of fun playing with the kids and riding lots of different rides. Unfortunately, though, I got hurt on one of the little roller coasters (no, it was not The Scooby Doo Roller Coaster, thank you). The ride was pretty much over and I was talking with two guys in the car in front of us, when the car slammed to a stop. I'm sure that it was supposed to be part of the fun, but I was driven right into the bar that holds you in the car. It actually knocked the breath out of me and my ribs hurt like - well, let's just say that they hurt a lot. Of course, I was too proud to admit that I was really hurt, but it did limit my activity for the next few weeks (it even hurt to lay down to go to sleep).
So there we are, getting ready to take a surfing lesson and I can't lay down on my chest on the board. I told the instructor that I would hang out in the water, but I likely would not try to surf because it just hurt too much. As it turned out though, a lot of people that were signed up for the free course decided not to come. There were only three people in the class and Alex and I were two of them. Ultimately, I decided that I should at least give this a try.
The problem was, it hurt. A lot. (Ok, in fairness, that probably was not the only problem, but it was the first problem) Nonetheless, I did try. After an hour, I had tried to catch maybe five waves (the three of us alternated one at a time - and by catch a wave I mean the instructor had shoved us on our boards onto the wave so all we had to do was try to stand up).
The third person got it right away. I think he stood up on the first wave and rode pretty much every wave he tried. Alex got better and better with each attempt and was getting pretty close.
The second hour was just me and Alex. I spent a lot of it just hanging out in the water, not actually on the board and watched Alex get better and better until he stood up once or twice. Eventually, I decided to try it again and on the very last wave I actually succeeded in standing up and getting a little bit of a ride. We left pretty tired, and with one of us taking more pills for the pain.
I've been thinking about our surfing lessons a fair amount lately, and not just because we have had lots of snow and it is freezing outside. I can't claim that I am surfer, or even that I know how to surf. But, I do know that it takes balance to stand up on the board. I know it takes trust in the unseen force of the moving water that holds you up. And I know that in my case, it took being able and willing to put up with some pain.
If I had been trying to surf through life for the past several months, I would not have been doing very well. My balance has been horrible - I would have fallen left, then right, then flat on my face. My trust has been weak - I've been trying to hold myself up and fighting against letting myself go (suddenly the lyrics "Please don't fight these hands that are holding you, My hands are holding you" from the Tenth Avenue North song By Your Side are going through my head). And I have been unwilling to make changes or do things that cause some discomfort (nothing that would truly cause pain).
So, while I don't really make New Year's resolutions, I do want to become a better surfer this year.
Happy 2010! As we go through this year may the waves be big, the rides long and the sharks small!