Surfing the waves of life!

During the seasons of my life, I have adopted the “surfing” analogy to make sense from all the experiences I’ve had. When you compare life events to the actions which a surfer typically takes, the weirdness of life becomes understandable.

For a moment, imagine that you are a surfer…

You will keep an eye on the weather charts looking out for the perfect surfing conditions. It might not be today, or tomorrow or this week. Sometimes you will wait many days or weeks for the surf to turn favorable. Sometimes your desire to get out there gets the better of you and you grab your board and stuff and rush to your favorite surf spot! 

Reaching the beach, you curiously and critically try and see how many other surfers there are in the water. What are the waves like? Is it worthwhile going out? Often you decide to turn around and not go in but rather have a beer with some friends at your local beach pub.  If you decide that conditions are cool, you simply cannot get into the water fast enough. You do all your rituals and prepare for the magic ride. You hit the water running with great anticipation. Adrenaline pumping through your veins while keeping an eye out to where the surf is breaking. You dive through and underneath the breakwater and work your way towards the ideal surf. It requires paddling, kicking, diving… hard work.

Suddenly you are out there. Floating, piercing your eyes, waiting for the swell. So many times you glide into the swell, kicking and frantically paddling to get ahead of the break! Just to slip out of it as it was not “the one“. If you are lucky, it’s a great wave and you get onto your board. Twisting, turning, riding it. You are on top of the world! You do every trick you know and ride it as hard and as long as you can.

If you are lucky, you ride the wave until it runs out or you break out. If you are not so lucky, the wave will throw you from your board and try and break every bone in your body. It is quite vicious and takes you deep into its belly! Pull, roll, slam and attempt to drown you! Your skill and experience save the day and you rope in your board just to start all over again. You realize that the wave will either through you off, or you manage to ride it until to the end.

With every wave you ride, you intend to ride it as hard as you can, as long as you can, to do as many tricks as you can and enjoy it as much as you can! 

This is where I love the analogy with life. Shouldn’t we have the same attitude with every venture we take in life? Whether it is a new project, a new job, a new love in your life, a night out with your friends or family, a stroll on the beach, a hike up the mountain… Anything really. If we could approach life the same way a surfer approaches surfing, life would be amazing! Just like surfing!

Nothing in life comes easy. You have to do your preparations, keep an eye out for the best conditions. Sometimes you have to take a chance, a leap of faith and do what you have to do. Best is when the conditions are right. You collect everything you need and start what you want to do. You keep a close eye on everyone who is in the “game“, your competitors, your clients, your suppliers, your colleagues… To get into it requires hard work and you need to keep your eye on the direction you are going. Sometimes the tide is strong and you drift off. You paddle harder. You work harder. Eventually, you have everything in place and you are ready to surf! This “wave” you want to ride has the potential to throw you off. If you are new to the game, chances are that you will fall off many times. Each time you paddle back and catch the next wave. With every wave, you learn, gain experience and become better at what you do. Once you are good enough, you don’t even bother to take the smaller waves but waits for a bigger wave. You need to learn more, gain new experience and become even better than what you were. If you do not go through this continuous cycle of learning, you will not be a successful surfer in life.

Some days the surf is not friendly towards you. Tired and disappointed you take your board and head home. But tomorrow you are back full of anticipation and excitement. You should approach each day the same way. When things don’t work out the way we want it to, or the way we anticipated it to be, we shouldn’t become despondent and miserable. From every experience, we learn and become better than we were. We choose our waves carefully and if it throws us, then we catch the next one until we have gained sufficient experience to ride the end out.

All your life experiences are like waves… how you respond to them is a choice. Are you a surfer of life? How do you approach the waves of life?

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