I don't think of myself as a fearful person. I've done many things I consider courageous. If I can dare myself to so something, even if it takes a while, eventually I'll do it. But then there are those things I'm afraid of, that I'm SO afraid of, I don't even let myself know I'm afraid.
I had a really illuminating lesson on Sunday morning with Amanda from the 310 Surf Chics of L.A. At 8 a.m., the beach was completely socked in by fog. Yards away from the Santa Monica Pier, I could see only a faintly colored blur where the Ferris Wheel would normally be. But while the amusement park rides were barely visible, I was there because I wanted to be seen. I hadn't been improving on my own in the water and I needed a skilled observer to show me what I couldn't see.
So what did she see?
Comfortable in the water. Check. Comfortable on my board. Check. Able to follow directions? Catch a wave? Pop up on land to a squat from a prone position? Check. Able to let go of the board in the water? Unfortunately not.
Visualize a surfer. Grace and speed combine in one smooth movement from prone to standing as a wave gains power beneath her. Arms outstretched, she's balanced and powerful. Unless she's still holding on to her board for dear life.
I knew there was something "wrong" with my arms. I'd just thought maybe they were too short. Why else couldn't I get my legs through them when I tried to stand up? They're not too short. They were just rigidly gripping the sides of Big Mama Wave.
As Trinity said, "If a surfer doesn't let go of her board, she's gonna fall over." Actually, what she said was a lot more complicated than that, but that was the main idea. Trinity's watched "Barbie and a Mermaid's Tale" a lot lately - featuring Barbie as a surfer who also happens to be a Mermaid - and she's considering herself something of an expert on girl-surfing these days.
But I digress.
Amanda could tell me again and again to let go. And I could tell myself. I'm falling into the water every time I take off anyway, so what am I afraid of? It doesn't really make sense. But there it is.
The biggest flaw in my technique? Sub-conscious. Pre-verbal. Lizard-brained. Paralyzing. Terror.
I know I'll get over it. What I can't get over is how oblivious I've been to my own arms.
And so I conclude, it really pays to ask someone trustworthy, now and then, to point out that thing everyone else can see but is totally invisible to you. Especially if it's something that's really important to you.
Like surfing is to me :)