Four unexpected lessons from the practice of riding waves

A surfboard on a sandy beach.
Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Waves, they’re hard to ride, and in the process of learning this demanding and often uncompromising activity, we can discover something extremely profound.

— Gery Lopez, aka. Mr. Pipeline, Surfing and shaping legend

Chess prodigy, former tai chi push hands world champion, Jiu Jitsu black belt, performance coach and arguably the greatest learner alive, Josh Waitzkin describes the road to mastery as an ability to transfer knowledge from one discipline to another.

The path to artistic insight in one direction often involves deep study of another — the intuition makes uncanny connections that lead to a crystallization of fragmented notions.

— Josh Waitzskin, Author of The Art of Learning

Many of us have had the sensation, for example, when you’re studying two seemingly unrelated subjects and an isight in one leads to a discovery in the other.

The Ocean Is an Airplane, Not a Car

Know your limit, check your ego

Surfer in a wetsuit on the beach, thinking about going out into the ocean
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible. And certainly ego makes it difficult every step of the way. It is certainly more pleasurable to focus on our talents and strengths, but where does that get us? Arrogance and self-absorption inhibit growth. So does fantasy and “vision.”

― Ryan Holiday, Author of The Ego Is the Enemy

“The waves are good Jesse, do you want to go back and grab your board?” My father-in-law suggested.

You have to recognize your limit and respect the process. There will always be more waves. You can practice tomorrow.

This is equally true in life.

Take a Breath and Go Back Under

Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

We’re all equal before a wave

— Laird Hamilton, Big wave surfer

I looked up just in time to see a mountain of white water heading in my direction… &^#$ I said. I dove off the board, bracing for impact, trying to get as deep as possible, under the current of the wave. It was useless.

But freaking out can be fatal.

Even the best surfers get thrown around by waves every day. They learn to go against the natural reaction to panic.

Your Snowy Home Is, In Many Ways, Better Than This Sunny Paradise

Overlooking a bay in Ubatuba, Brazil
Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

The only window we have into the souls of others is through empathetic conversation.

At the same time, approach your own life with gratitude, not guilt.

The Ocean Is Always Changing, Pay Attention

The waves of life are difficult and dangerous to ride, but they are our waves, we have to ride them on our own. No one can ride them for us.

— Gery Lopez

In surfing the playground changes everyday. No two waves are the same, even if you catch them on the same beach on the same day.

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