Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Caught Inside

Anyone who knows me well may know that, under pressure, I can become extremely high-strung. Historically, my way of dealing with stress has not been to withdraw or take a soothing bath, but to lash out  at those nearest and dearest to me.  It was at a most chronically stressed and destructively high-strung part of my life that someone first suggested to me the wisdom of spending more time at the beach and in the water.

When I began my surfing odyssey roughly five months ago, it never occurred to me that this too could become one of the most stressful periods of my adult life.

The waves of my personal life keep crashing on me. The term “caught inside” refers to those times when a surfer can’t get past the white water to smoother water in order to catch a wave.

Caught inside, you’re unable to ride anything, and most able to get your ass kicked. In the best circumstances, you can get back to shore and wait for a lull before paddling out. But sometimes you’re caught in such a way that you are not only wiped out by one strong wave, but unable to catch your breath before another one rides in and slams you back down. Even if you’re not a surfer, this may have happened to you on a day of particularly strong waves at the beach. Without expecting it, a set rolled in, with too little time between waves for you to escape.

So what do you do? Hold your breath and dive under when you can. Relax. Surrender. Whatever you do – you don’t fight. Fighting only exhausts you, depleting you of the energy necessary to possibly save your own life.

I don’t blame the ocean when she rises up against my expectations and slaps me around a bit. It’s her nature. Right now, on dry land, I’m working on bringing that equanimity to the waves that surround me  – waves of another person’s secret anger, resentment, bitterness and long-held grudges.

I don't want to over-stretch the metaphor. Or over-simplify the complicated.  I'll just say that it's gotten very sharky out here. So please, pray for us.

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