Today I saw something in the surf that is instructive about life. I have a lengthy commute to the law office from North County San Diego to Downtown. In lieu of sitting in traffic on a southbound freeway, I drive out to Carlsbad and take the Coaster Downtown. The first third of the ride hugs the coastline, and I get to check the surf throughout North County.
This morning I saw something I've experienced many times, but its meaning struck me. A swell was hitting the region today, and the waves had some size, about head high. Just south of 15th Street in Del Mar, I saw a surfer unsuccessfully paddle for a wave, and it passed him by. It was an easily catchable wave, and I could tell the surfer's paddle attempt was lacking. Maybe the wave was too big for him or maybe he lacked confidence in his ability, but he could and should have caught that wave.
I'll be very transparent here - I've been that guy when I was younger. Catchable waves have come my way, and I made a show of attempting to catch them, but didn't really paddle hard enough and the waves passed by. Sometimes the conditions were too hairy and sometimes I just lacked confidence in my ability to make the takeoff. I recall surf sessions during my youth, when I had friends out in the lineup and there was a big swell, and I would find myself in perfect position for a rogue set wave that I wanted no part of. Maybe it was too big, maybe I knew there was a bigger wave behind it, maybe the face was too steep (I've never been a fan of late takeoffs), or maybe I was struggling that day, but there have been times where I made a show of "trying" to catch the wave, but self-sabotaged the attempt. Sometimes I only made the faux effort because my peers were watching, and I gave an outward appearance of fighting for the wave, feigning frustration at missing the wave, even angrily splashing the water for show. Sad, right? Why am I even out in the water if I'm only pretending to try to catch waves? Why go through the effort of driving to the coast, parking, donning a wetsuit, facing the cold and paddling out, only to NOT surf? From my vantage point on the train this morning, on the sandstone bluff, I saw someone wimp out on a fun looking wave. I had empathy because I've done it.
I became philosophical as the train turned inland at Torrey Pines, where the ocean goes out of view. If you really want something in life, especially something important, you need to commit and fight for it. In the photo posted above, the surfer is really fighting for that wave. In order to succeed you have to be totally focused and give it your all. The wave will pass by if you give a nominal effort. Even worse, you might catch the wave anyhow, but you'll go over the falls because you weren't committed.
In life we will pursue goals that are frightening. The bigger and scarier your goal, the harder you have to commit and fight. If you half-heartedly go through the motions and let that wave/opportunity pass by, you didn't really want it in the first place. Or maybe you'll set small goals because they inspire less fear. If you are only going to make a nominal effort for something, and if you allow fear to hold you back, you are wasting your time.
About the Blog
Here I write about the evolution of this project, the act of preserving life stories and personal development. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.